Editor, Daily News

The town of Orange is hoping to join all but one of its abutting neighbors in becoming a Green Community. Becoming a Green Community will automatically qualify the town to receive a state grant of about $145,000 to be used for improving energy efficiency of town buildings and departments. No matching funds are required and the town will be able to apply for future energy saving grants. Neighboring towns have received grants ranging from $137,850 (Warwick) to $475,000 (Athol) under this program.

There is one article that must be approved at the special town meeting on Oct. 26, before the Green Community application can be submitted late this month. That is adoption of the Stretch Energy Code, an amendment to the MA Base Building Code. Starting in 2017 the MA Base Building Code and the Stretch Code were updated and are now very similar. The Stretch Code only affects new residences and certain large and/or high-energy use commercial construction. Additions, renovations and repairs are exempt. Rather than prescribing specifics like inches of insulation the Stretch Code requires builders to use a Home Energy Rating System (HERS) rater in planning the home to meet an overall energy use target. Insulation, ventilation, heating, air conditioning, appliances and lighting are all considered. The small cost of using the HERS rater is largely offset in the beginning by rebates and more than paid back quickly by lower energy costs over the lifetime of the home. 

Town meeting must adopt the Stretch Code, although it can also later undo the adoption if the voters wish it. If the Stretch Code were rescinded in the future grant money would not have to be repaid, but the town would become ineligible to apply for future energy saving grants. Over 185 Massachusetts towns have adopted the Stretch Code and none has ever rescinded it. New homebuilders, statewide and local, are using it. Orange has only to gain by becoming a Green Community and using the grant money to save taxpayer money on town energy bills.

Please attend the special town meeting on Thursday, Oct. 26, at 7 p.m. in the town hall and vote yes to the Stretch Code.

Dianne Salcedo, Henry Ortel, Deb Kent, Rice Flanders,

Pat Larson, Bob Michaud 

Members of the Orange Energy Committee (ad-hoc)

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Athol Daily News

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225 Exchange Street
Athol, MA 01331
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