Climate & Resiliency Planning

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The Town of Arlington is a leader in combating climate change and preparing for its effects. Climate change mitigation refers to measures that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Climate resilience refers to measures that help minimize the effects of climate change, such as flooding and heat waves. To learn more about the climate mitigation campaigns and projects listed below, contact Ken Pruitt, Energy Manager, via or at 781-316-3428. To learn more about the climate resilience campaigns and projects listed below, contact Emily Sullivan, Environmental Planner/Conservation Agent, via or at 781-316-3012.

Climate Change Mitigation

In 2018 the Town of Arlington took two major steps in reducing greenhouse gas emissions: first, the Select Board voted to commit Arlington to becoming carbon neutral by 2050 (net zero emissions of greenhouse gases from all sources). Second, the Select Board established a Clean Energy Future Committee charged with leading a campaign to ensure Arlington achieved the net zero goal by 2050.

Climate Change Resilience

Arlington is actively engaged in efforts to improve climate change preparedness and resiliency by reducing known vulnerabilities. Efforts through the hazard mitigation planning process, as well as the State’s Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) Community Resilience Building Workshop have enabled Arlington to better understand its greatest opportunities to improve resilience. Such opportunities include reducing flooding along Mill Brook and addressing heat hazards along Arlington’s major corridors.

Current Campaigns

HeatSmart Arlington-Winchester

The Towns of Arlington and Winchester partnered in the fall of 2018 to apply for state funding to undertake a campaign promoting clean heating and cooling technologies in both towns. This program kicked-off in March, 2019, and offers homeowners and businesses financial incentives and vetted installers for air source heat pumps (aka ductless mini-splits), ground source heat pumps, solar hot water and modern wood heat. More information is available on the HeatSmart website.

Community Choice Aggregation

Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) allows municipalities to use their bulk purchasing power to contract for electricity supply outside of the standard supply offered by electric utilities (in Arlington’s case, Eversource). It also allows municipalities to increase the percentage of their electricity that is from renewable sources (e.g., solar, wind) above the minimum required by state law. The Town of Arlington established its CCA program in August, 2017. The default extra percentage of renewable energy in Arlington’s electricity supply is 5%. However, ratepayers can opt-up to either 50% or 100% renewable energy. To learn more, visit Arlington’s Community Choice Aggregation website.

Current Projects

Net Zero by 2050

Arlington is currently working on a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. This plan is being drafted by Arlington’s Clean Energy Future Committee.

Green Community Grants for Energy Efficiency

The Green Communities Act of 2008 established a set of standards municipalities must meet to be designated a Green Community. These include a plan to reduce energy use at least 20 percent within five years, as-of-right zoning for renewable energy facilities (like ground-mounted solar panels), a commitment to purchase only fuel-efficient vehicles, and adoption of the state’s building energy Stretch Code. Arlington met these standards and was one of the first Massachusetts communities to be designated a Green Community by the Department of Energy Resources (DOER) in 2010.

One of the benefits of becoming a Green Community is eligibility for DOER competitive grants for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Since becoming a Green Community, Arlington has secured over $1.5 million in Green Community grants (more than any other community) for a wide range of projects, including upgrades of heating systems in town buildings, replacing inefficient lighting with LEDs (the replacement of all street lights with LEDs alone is saving Arlington over $100,000 per year), the purchase of electric vehicles for the municipal fleet, installation of smart building controls that automatically reduce wasted energy, and much more. A helpful summary of Arlington’s achievements under the Green Communities Act is in this case study produced by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council in 2014.

Solar Panels on Municipal Rooftops

In December 2015, under a power purchase agreement with the solar firm Ameresco, rooftop solar arrays were installed on six school buildings: Arlington High School, Ottoson Middle School, and the Dallin, Peirce, Thompson and Stratton elementary schools. Collectively these solar arrays generate more than 820,000 kWh of clean electricity every year and save the town over $90,000 in reduced electricity bills. For more information, visit Arlington’s solar photovoltaic page.

Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

The Town of Arlington maintains three publicly-available electric vehicle charging stations, located at the Russell Common and Gibbs School parking lots, and in front of 85 Park Avenue (ACMi). In addition, there are private EV charging stations available to the public. To see all EV charging stations in Arlington, visit the PlugShare website.

Hazard Mitigation Plan

Arlington received funding from the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) to update the Town's Hazard Mitigation Plan in 2018. Arlington's original plan was adopted in 2012. Hazard Mitigation Plans provide policy makers with more information to ensure that residents are protected from hazards. Through this process, Arlington will map the vulnerability of Arlington and work to engage neighborhoods in conversation about hazard mitigation and protection. Arlington is working with the Metropolitan Area Planning Council on the update. The final update will be adopted in mid-2020, after opportunities for public engagement and feedback. The draft plan is now available for public comment. Public comment on the draft plan will be accepted through February 10, 2020.

There are many ways you can prepare for extreme weather events, including heat, cold, and flooding. Information about extreme events, who is at risk, how to prepare in advance, how to respond during an extreme event, and what you should watch out for has been consolidated on a helpful handout.

Regional Collaborations

MyRWA Resilient Mystic Collaborative 

The Resilient Mystic Collaborative is a partnership between twelve cities and towns within the Mystic River Watershed, facilitated by the Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA). The Collaborative is committed to working on projects of regional significance to decrease collective risk of harm from flooding, drought, extreme temperatures, storms, sea level rise and other climate-intensified risks. The Collaborative is made up of six working groups: Advocacy and Policy, Collaborative Governance, Lower Mystic Resilient Infrastructure, Social Resiliency, Stormwater Modeling, and Upper Mystic Stormwater Modeling. 

Stormwater Management Community Support Collaborative

In Fall 2018, Arlington was selected to be one of two municipalities to work with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and MA Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) to enhance stormwater management through a community support collaborative. Arlington and Winchester, the other selected municipality, will work with US EPA and MassDEP through the Summer 2019 to conduct a local regulatory audit of stormwater policies and work with engineering experts to design low-cost, replicable stormwater infrastructure units that can be installed across town. 

The goal of this collaborative is work with the state and federal stormwater regulatory agencies to improve compliance with the recently updated MS4 stormwater regulations and reduce the eutrophication and degradation of water quality in the Mystic River.

MAPC Metro Mayors Coalition - Climate Preparedness Taskforce

The Metropolitan Mayors Coalition is a group of cities and towns in the urban core of the Metro Boston area whose leaders pledged to work together to create solutions for common, regional issues. One focus of the Coalition is preparing the region for climate change. The Climate Preparedness Taskforce works on projects and programs to promote climate mitigation (reducing greenhouse gas emissions) and enhance climate resiliency (strengthening communities socially and structurally).  

Arlington's climate mitigation and resilience initiatives include creating a greenhouse gas inventory and net-zero plan (in progress), developing a tree inventory (complete), and creating a stormwater management and hazard mitigation plan (in progress).

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