The City of Medford earlier this month was chosen for the Metropolitan Area Planning Council's (MAPC) new program dedicated to helping communities build long-term efficient energy plans.
Medford was one of 25 Massachusetts communities that applied for the Local Energy Action Program (LEAP) and one of the eight finalists, according to MAPC Energy Planner Erin Brandt.
Brandt explained that LEAP is a two-year-long process in which MAPC will first work with Medford to assess its current energy policies and then plan green initiatives to implement in the future.
"We're going to go through a process of visioning and goal-setting where we hear from the community and other stakeholders about what they want to see in the future of their community around energy," Brandt told the Daily. "After we help communities create that plan, we want to work with them to start implementing the strategies they identify."
Carey Duques, Medford's energy and environmental director and environmental agent, believes that LEAP will be beneficial to the city and its residents.
"One benefit is that MAPC will help us reach out to the residents and really educate them about energy initiatives not only that the city is undertaking, but also initiatives that residents should take advantage of," Duques told the Daily. "One example is that the utility companies are offering programs for home energy assistance, and some residents might not be aware of programs like that."
Both Brandt and Duques hope to involve Tufts in LEAP's initiatives since part of the campus is in Medford, and they plan to reach out to the administration in the next few months or so.
"We're very much interested in establishing a working relationship with Tufts," Brandt said. "They have clearly been a leader in a lot of their own work on campus in terms of sustainability and energy, so we'd love to learn from them and what they might be interested in doing both on campus and with the residents of the communities surrounding them in Medford."
Brandt said that while some of the towns were selected because they lacked prior energy planning experience, one of the key reasons for Medford's selection was its previous initiatives in the form of the city's 10-year-old Climate Action Plan, the first of its kind in Massachusetts.
Duques added that amending the Climate Action Plan, which was written by former Tufts graduate student Kim Lundgren (GA '02), was a key objective driving Medford's LEAP application.
"The plan helped the city over the past 10 years by helping us identify different energy initiatives that we wanted to undertake," Duques said. "We really need to update it, so when we heard of this opportunity being offered by MAPC, we wanted to take advantage of it."
Brandt and Duques have thus far met with Medford Mayor Michael McGlynn as well as several other staff members to discuss their priorities and interests in moving forward with LEAP.
"Some projects that we're focusing on are looking at the public buildings, everything from City Hall itself to the public schools, library and fire stations … and trying to make those as energy efficient as possible," Duques said.
She also said that the city hopes to place solar panels on the roofs of all of Medford's public schools.
For the LEAP application, Duques, Medford Energy Efficiency Coordinator Alicia Hunt and several members of the Medford Energy Committee gathered letters of support from organizations and officials around the city, ranging from the mayor and the city building commissioner to Green Medford, a local environmental group made up of residents.