August 29, 2022 By John Borger, Hingham Net Zero
When we are saturated with negative news, it’s easy to feel discouraged about the state of the world and how little it appears we can do about it. Many folks in town may not be aware of the exciting progress Hingham is making in fighting climate change. In this and future posts, we’ll be sharing with you encouraging information highlighting what’s happening, and what you can do to help lower our collective carbon footprint. For this post, let’s start with the basics that every Hingham resident will want to know:
1. 2021 Hingham Town Meeting overwhelmingly approved the goal of reaching net zero carbon emissions in the Town by 2040. Net zero means that carbon emitted in a specified time frame, less carbon removed from the atmosphere by plants and other carbon capture mechanisms or credits, nets out to zero. Town Meeting also chartered a new committee to develop the plan to achieve this goal - the Climate Action Planning Committee (CAPC).
2. To fund CAPC’s development of the plan, Hingham Municipal Lighting Plant (HMLP) donated $80,000 from profits HMLP realized trading renewable energy credits.
3. CAPC convened late summer of 2021 and in the spring of 2022 engaged local climate consulting firm Energyzt to help write the plan, targeted for release by the end of March 2023.
4. Recently, CAPC and Energyzt initiated a series of public forums to obtain Hingham residents’ input for incorporation into the plan. CAPC will follow up with two more sessions at 7:00 PM on Wednesday, September 14th (in person at Town Hall) and Tuesday, September 20 th (virtual session via Zoom) - details to follow. You can find more about CAPC here: https://www.hingham-ma.gov/917/Climate-Action-Planning-Committee. The Committee’s 5 minute survey soliciting Hingham residents’ input can be found here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HinghamCAPC . Make your voice heard!
5. There are two other climate-related Town-chartered committees: 1) The Energy Action Committee, created to make municipal operations more energy-efficient; and 2) Cleaner Greener Hingham, dedicated to reducing plastic and other waste and fostering recycling and composting. Both committees’ meetings are open to the public and all are welcome. Schedules and agendas can be found on the Town’s web site.
6. The primary strategy for attaining net zero for both Hingham and the Commonwealth is electrification (more about that in future posts). Thus, HMLP will be a key focal point in Hingham’s plan. In 2021, HMLP reached a key milestone: 50% of electricity purchased was carbon-free. The electrification strategy is premised on HMLP’s commitment to reach 100% carbon-free electricity sourcing in the next several years. Electric vehicles charged with HMLP power will be carbon free; the all-electric, “net zero-ready” buildings being built now will be net zero when HMLP reaches its goal of 100% . In early 2022, HMLP hired Sustainability Coordinator Brianna Bennett to advance its climate-related programs and policies. HMLP is leading the effort to win grants and install EV charging stations in Town. Find out where here: https://www.hmlp.com/ev-charging-network/
7. With overwhelming support from civic organizations and private citizens, the Select Board, with Town Administrator Tom Mayo and the Town of Cohasset, created a one-year contract position effective July 2022 to spearhead climate and sustainability action for both towns. The Sustainability Coordinator opportunity is currently posted and will be shared with Cohasset on a two thirds Hingham/one third Cohasset basis.
8. The new Public Safety Facility will be an all-electric, net zero-ready facility for normal operations. The new South Shore Country Club maintenance facility and seasonal pool, and the new Foster Elementary School will also be all-electric, net zero-ready buildings. These are important steps toward the Town’s goal.
9. The Hingham Police Department has already embarked on the long range process of transitioning its fleet to electric vehicles.
10. For several years, Hingham residents have been participating in volunteer organizations that are fighting climate change: Massachusetts Climate Action Network (MCAN), Sustainable South Shore, 350.org MASS South Shore, and Hingham Net Zero (HNZ), among others. Hingham High’s student organization, the Green Team, is dedicated to promoting and reinforcing environmental stewardship among students.
As you can see, there is a lot going on and you should be proud of Hingham’s progress! Our next post focuses on the Climate Action Planning Committee and how you can contribute. Meanwhile, please tell us in your comments what you’d like to see us cover.