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Ashland - Local Town Pages

Working to Net Zero: Grant Awarded to Quantify Climate Change Mitigation Strategies

Mar 02, 2021 08:30AM ● By Cynthia Whitty

In October 2020, Ashland was awarded $130,000 by the Mass. Department of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) for a Planning Assistance Grant, Comprehensive Community Climate Accounting. The project will be managed by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) in collaboration with Ashland’s Sustainability Coordinator Frank Nakashian and the Sustainability Committee. Framingham and Natick are also included in the project.

In this interview with Ashland Local Town Pages, Nakashian discusses how Ashland will use the grant and how it will benefit residents.  Whitty: Could you provide some background on the project?

In spring of 2020, Ashland town staff reached out to MAPC to discuss available grant opportunities. Ashland staff also expressed interest in developing its climate planning strategy to help meet its Net Zero by 2040 goals. After discussion, MAPC expressed interest in partnering with Ashland and other Metro-West communities, Natick and Framingham, to create an application with the EEA for a Planning Assistance Grant. MAPC applied for the grant in May, 2020, and received word of acceptance by the EEA in October, 2020. This grant award is one of 29 Planning Assistance Grants funded statewide.

Whitty: Could you describe what the grant and how Ashland will use it? 

The Comprehensive Community Climate Accounting grant will quantify greenhouse gas emissions reduction potential of several climate mitigation strategies in Ashland. An example of this would be MAPC exploring the greenhouse gas reduction estimate of adding more on-site solar in town. Once the program starts, Ashland staff and Sustainability Committee members, in conjunction with MAPC, will identify 3-5 climate mitigation strategies to focus on, and MAPC will then work to estimate how implementing these strategies will lower emissions in Ashland. 

Whitty: How will the project be carried out?

MAPC is the project lead and will conduct the grant management and the planning grant report on behalf of Ashland. The Sustainability Committee and the Sustainability Coordinator will work with MAPC to provide input on project direction and will assist with providing MAPC town data as needed. 

Whitty: What is the benefit to Ashland residents?

The end product of this grant will be projections of how implementing different best practice sustainability strategies over time will reduce emissions locally. The overall goal of emission reductions and climate planning strategies are to improve public health and make communities resilient to long-term climate change impacts. Ashland passed a Net Zero Resolution, and this grant will assist in providing information on how to get to Net Zero by incorporating input from the MAPC subject matter experts at no expense to the town—no outside funds used.

Whitty: How does this grant tie in with a sustainability strategy for the town? 

This grant directly ties in with the sustainability strategy of the town by providing quantifiable information on how climate change mitigation strategies will reduce emissions. With this information, volunteers and town staff will have data to make informed decisions in the future on enacting climate policies and meeting town climate planning strategies. 

Whitty: What is the project timeline? 

We anticipate the project will kick off in the spring of 2021 and that the project will conclude in summer of 2022. The grant finances are managed by MAPC.