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Select Board hears proposals for implementing climate resolution

The resiliency group and the committee responsible for advising the town on energy and measures to combat climate change presented a proposal to the Select Board this week for implementing the town climate resolution, which was approved by Town Meeting in October.

Four recommended actions were discussed, including a plan to change the Community Resiliency Working Group to the Harvard Climate Initiative Committee, a standing committee dedicated to implementing the resolution, and a suggestion to add a member from Harvard Energy Advisory Committee to the Permanent Building Committee.

The town climate resolution, which appeared as warrant Article 18 at Fall Town Meeting, commits Harvard to helping achieve the state’s greenhouse gas reduction goals and foster climate resiliency. (See “Article 18: Climate resolution would commit town to cut greenhouse gas emissions,” Harvard Press, Oct. 14.) The resolution passed by a majority vote and was endorsed by 15 committees, leaving it up to the Select Board to establish the framework for achieving these goals.

Community Resiliency Working Group Chair Ellen Sachs Leicher told Select Board members that turning the group into a standing committee instead of a subcommittee would expand the group’s role in implementing the resolution. According to the proposal, the Harvard Climate Initiative Committee would comprise 10 current resiliency group members and an additional two members from HEAC.

Sachs Leicher said the proposed committee would be responsible for community outreach, creating the environmental assessment process, and collecting data on energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions.

The second action item suggested adding a HEAC member and HCIC member to the Permanent Building Committee. “There doesn’t seem to be any energy focus on the Permanent Building Committee. The group has felt strongly that it would be nice to have at least an energy representative on there,” said Sachs Leicher. Prior to Fall Town Meeting, the Permanent Building Committee unanimously voted to take no position on the climate resolution.

“It seems like you’re kind of forcing your way onto a committee,” said Select Board member Rich Maiore, in response to the second proposal. “We need to talk to them before we vote on this or even think about it.” While Maiore was concerned that this recommendation had not yet been discussed with the Permanent Building Committee, members of the Select Board made it clear that no voting was going to take place Tuesday. The Select Board plans to invite the Permanent Building Committee to its next meeting to discuss the addition of HEAC and HCIC representatives to the committee.

Select Board member Alice von Loesecke said she worked with HEAC members in the past. When she was part of the School Building Committee, a HEAC member advised the committee on additional ways to look at building plans. Von Loesecke said the addition would strengthen the Permanent Building Committee. “It gives an opportunity, in real time, to have someone there to participate in discussions and answer questions if necessary.”

HEAC member Paul Green added that he expects the state to give out more grants in the years leading up to 2030. “One of the things HEAC has been really good at is getting grants,” said Green. “That kind of expertise I think will be invaluable to the town.”

The town’s environmental assessment form would be changed if the third action item were to be implemented. The new form would focus on analyzing environmental impacts of projects early in their processes. The fourth proposal suggests that each town department should take responsibility to ensure its actions align with the resolution’s goals. This proposal also recommends that nonfossil fuel alternatives should be considered when purchasing new equipment, and that native species should be considered in landscaping.

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