The Baker-Polito Administration announced grant funding for feasibility studies that will help three Massachusetts state universities achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The three awards, totaling $300,000 to Salem State University (SSU), UMass Dartmouth (UMD), and UMass Lowell (UML) are part of the $660,000 feasibility study grant program for state entities launched by the Department of Energy Resources (DOER) through its Leading by Example (LBE) program.
“As the Commonwealth works to achieve our ambitious target of net zero emissions by 2050, our administration is pleased to help these universities build on the progress they are making to protect the environment and achieve net zero emissions on their campuses,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “State universities continue to take meaningful steps toward greater sustainability to help the Commonwealth maintain its national leadership in energy efficiency and renewable energy.”
“State universities in Massachusetts have been making tremendous efforts to lower emissions and increase their long-term sustainability,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “The success of the Leading by Example program has been instrumental in continuing the progress being made by state agencies, institutions of public higher education, and cities and towns to increase energy resilience and help Massachusetts meet its climate goals.”
The feasibility studies will assess multiple options to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including clean energy generation and energy efficiency improvements:
Salem State University - $100,000 – The study will investigate fossil-free heating and cooling options for its North Campus as part of their long-term goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. The study will assess heat pumps, clean biomass, geothermal, and energy efficiency options.
UMass Dartmouth - $100,000 - The study will fund the development of a Comprehensive Energy Master Plan to help UMD understand the investment and implementation requirements to reach a greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of 80% by 2050 and pursue a more aggressive implementation strategy that targets carbon neutrality by 2030.
UMass Lowell - $100,000 – The study will fund the development of a campus-wide Renewable Energy Master Plan that will take a comprehensive and strategic approach to assessing renewable options with the goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.
“We commend these three state universities for their leadership and their efforts to lower emissions and increase renewable energy resources on campus,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “These studies, and the policies that are drawn from them, will lead to substantive actions that result in large reductions in emissions and energy costs.”
“Feasibility studies play an important role in determining the most effective ways to lower emissions for universities and our communities,” said Department of Energy Resources Commissioner Patrick Woodcock. “By taking advantage of the resources provided through our Leading by Example program, these institutions will ultimately reduce energy costs and usage, helping to move the Commonwealth closer towards our shared clean energy future.”
“These grants are an important reminder of the role that our institutions play not only in the academy but also in the local community,” said Carlos E. Santiago, Massachusetts Commissioner of Higher Education. “I am delighted to see our public universities work toward clean energy goals that will positively impact individual campuses as well as taxpayers and residents in the cities and towns where they are located.”
The Feasibility Studies Program for State Entities, part of the Leading by Example Clean Energy Grant Program, seeks to support state agency efforts to develop and install a range of clean energy technologies at state facilities that result in reduced energy use, lower greenhouse gas emissions and lower energy costs.
The Leading by Example program works collaboratively with state agencies to meet specific targets for greenhouse gas emission reductions, energy consumption reduction and renewable energy procurements. Since 2007, state agencies and public higher education campuses have made significant progress, including collectively reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent, generating 19 percent of electricity demand from onsite renewable and combined heat and power sources, installing over 27 megawatts of solar capacity, reducing heating oil use by 84 percent, and installing 158 electric vehicle charging stations.
Since 2018, LBE has awarded over $500,000 to nine projects for feasibility studies for solar canopies, battery storage, renewable fuels, and electric vehicle charging stations at state agencies and public institutions of higher education.
“I want to thank the Baker-Polito Administration for their leadership on this issue and their support of UMass Dartmouth’s ambitions to reduce our carbon emissions,” said UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Robert E. Johnson. “The entire UMass Dartmouth community has mobilized to fight climate change and create a more sustainable future not just for our students, but for the health of our planet.”
The program is funded by an allocation of Alternative Compliance Payment (ACP) funds. ACP funds are paid by electric retail suppliers if they have insufficient Renewable or Alternative Energy Certificates to meet their compliance obligations under the Renewable and Alternative Portfolio Standard programs.