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LOWELL, Mass. — Long at the forefront of efforts to implement and grow sustainable operations and practices in the Merrimack Valley, UMass Lowell and the City of Lowell today announced the Green Community Partnership.
An alliance to provide leadership, resources and expertise for sustainability initiatives throughout greater Lowell, the Green Community Partnership is the brainchild of university Chancellor Jacquie Moloney and City Manager Eileen Donoghue who, along with philanthropist Nancy Donahue, will co-chair a Green Community Commission that includes a broad swath of business, community and environmental leaders. The commission held its kick-off meeting today at the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center.
Moloney and Donoghue also announced the establishment of a new sustainability grant program to launch the partnership. Funded by a generous donation from Nancy Donahue to the university and matched by community partners, $50,000 will be available for joint university-community projects. Proposals must align with the sustainability goals in UMass Lowell’s 2020 Strategic Plan and the City of Lowell’s Sustainable Lowell 2025 Master Plan to be considered for grants ranging from $500 to $10,000.
Applications must be submitted online
by Friday, March 6 and a committee comprised of university and city officials will review the proposals. Open houses and outreach events will take place in February to provide additional details about the application and submission process for organizations and groups seeking grant funding. Grant recipients will be announced on Earth Day, Wednesday, April 22.
“As the No. 1 sustainable university in Massachusetts, UMass Lowell has been on the leading edge of this important movement,” Moloney said. “Our efforts have saved millions of operating dollars and reduced our impact on the environment. This partnership with the city will advance both our institutional values and our business efficiency and I’m grateful to City Manager Donoghue and her team for joining us in this effort.”
“Environmental sustainability has long been a central focus for the City of Lowell and through bold action, we have made measurable progress in curbing carbon emissions and improving our energy efficiency,” said Eileen Donoghue. “The Green Community Partnership will capitalize on the innovative spirit that Lowell is known for and that is fostered at the university by supporting creative ideas to protect our environment and advance our shared sustainability objectives.”
Both leaders thanked Nancy Donahue for her gift that served as a catalyst for the green initiative. They also praised elected leaders in Lowell and in the region for their support. Moloney and Donoghue said the Green Community Partnership will put Lowell well ahead of other communities as the governor’s office and the Massachusetts Legislature ramp up sustainability grant funding opportunities.
Two Green Community Partnership open houses have already been scheduled for individuals, university and community groups interested in applying for grants. The City of Lowell will hold an open house from 5 to 7 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 10 at the Lowell Senior Center, 276 Broadway St., Lowell. UMass Lowell will hold a similar session Wednesday Feb. 12 from 6 to 8 p.m. at University Crossing, 220 Pawtucket St., Lowell.
As an institution, UMass Lowell is recognized as a national leader for its commitment to sustainability and climate-change awareness. The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) rates UMass Lowell the highest among all colleges and universities in Massachusetts and among the top 2 percent globally for its sustainability efforts.
Since signing on to the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment in 2007, UMass Lowell has committed itself to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 through its aggressive Climate Action Plan. The recently completed $23.1 million Accelerated Energy Program resulted in more than $1 million in yearly savings and annual reductions of 1.7 million gallons of water and 9 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions.
In 2010, the City of Lowell became one of the first communities in the Commonwealth to be designated as a Green Community, reflecting the city’s longstanding commitment to environmental sustainability and its leadership among Massachusetts gateway cities in implementing ambitious renewable energy and energy efficiency initiatives.
Since earning that designation, the city has continually made substantial investments to enhance the efficiency of municipal buildings and vehicles, resulting in a 30.77 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Lowell has also prioritized and invested in the development of renewable energy, which has led to the construction of a vast network of solar installations serving the municipality, including out-of-city solar facilities that generate net metering credits for the City of Lowell. Effective policies have been adopted by the city that have incentivized significant residential and commercial solar installations citywide.
The Lowell City Council has made sustainability a priority, consistently offering its full support of initiatives aimed at enhancing energy efficiency and reducing emissions. In 2017, the council adopted a resolution supporting the goal of transitioning Lowell to the use of 100 percent clean and renewable energy, prompting concrete steps that have reduced the city’s fossil fuel usage. Lowell’s sustainability efforts are also guided by an active Sustainability Council, formed in 2016.