Sustainability Goals and History
The Town of Winchester is committed to reducing the carbon pollution responsible for climate change, and to preparing for the impacts of climate change to ensure our community remains resilient not just now, but in the future.
On April 22 (Earth Day), 2019, Winchester's Select Board voted unanimously to commit to reducing the Town's carbon pollution at least 80 percent by 2050. That same year Town Manager Lisa Wong established a Climate Action Plan Committee charged with writing a plan to achieve the 80% carbon pollution by 2050 goal. The resulting Climate Action Plan was released in 2020. It contains 49 measures to reduce carbon pollution, and 9 measures to enhance community resilience to climate change. Winchester's Climate Action Advisory Committee and Sustainability Director are leading Town efforts to implement the 2020 Climate Action Plan.
As important as the climate achievements of 2019-present are, Winchester has a long history of leadership in climate and environmental sustainability. Following is a list of significant milestones beginning in 2005.
- Sustainable Winchester, a local sustainability advocacy group that is still active, founded by resident Carolyn Starrett.
- Energy Management Committee formed by the Select Board with a charge to reduce energy use in municipal operations to save energy and money.
- Winchester Farmers Market begins operation.
- EcoFestival held on Town Common.
- Winchester initiates a Solar Challenge to persuade residents to sign up to support wind energy through the New England Wind Community Solar Challenge. In the spring of 2008, Winchester residents made over 300 contributions to the New England Wind Fund, which earned two, 2 kW solar installations for the High School. The panels were installed April 2010.
- The volunteer Cool Winchester EcoTeams program was launched, whereby local volunteers work with homeowners to reduce their energy use.
- Winchester was designated a Green Community by the state Department of Energy Resources. As of November 2021, cumulative Green Communities energy efficiency grants to the Town for energy efficiency projects have totaled over $2.2 million. That figure does not include utility rebates or the over $7 million in avoided energy costs since 2010 thanks to funded Green Communities projects.
- The Select Board established a Climate Action Task Force (CATF) with a mandate to complete a greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory, set GHG emissions targets, and write a Town Climate Action Plan.
- The CATF completes a greenhouse gas inventory for emissions from the year 2006.
- Winchester's first Climate Action Plan released (April 28). Recommends 15% GHG reduction by 2016, and 80% by 2050 (compared to the 2006 baseline).
- Climate Action Advisory Committee established by the Select Board to guide the Town in implementing the Climate Action Plan.
- The Solarize Winchester campaign results in 35 solar installations on rooftops across town.
- Winchester serves as a Massachusetts partner for a Federal Rooftop Solar Challenge Grant, designed to streamline rooftop solar projects through improved permitting, financing and other means.
- Single stream recycling for residents initiated at Winchester's Transfer Station.
- The SMART (Save Money and Reduce Trash) waste disposal pilot at Winchester's Transfer Station begins. The goal is to reduce trash disposal and increase recycling and composting. The pilot ended in the fall of 2021.
- Winchester's first electric vehicle charging stations installed in the Library / Town Hall parking lot.
- Mass Department of Energy Resources names Winchester one of two Leading by Example communities. The award recognized Winchester's outstanding sustainability efforts that resulted in environmental and energy benefits.
- The WinPower green electricity aggregation program launched, resulting in significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions attributable to electricity consumption in Winchester.
- The new Winchester High School opens and is awarded Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold status. The new High School uses 60% less natural gas than the prior building.
- Fish ladder to allow herring to swim farther upstream in the Aberjona River installed at the Center Falls Dam (outlet of Mill Pond).
- Plastic Bag Bylaw passed by Town Meeting, phasing out single use plastic shopping bags.
- HeatSmart Arlington-Winchester campaign results in the installation of hundreds of clean heating systems across both communities.
- On Earth Day, April 22, the Select Board votes to commit Winchester to reduce carbon pollution (greenhouse gas emissions) 80% by 2050.
- Winchester greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory completed using 2017 data (the most recent data available.
- New rooftop solar systems at the Department of Public Works and Vinson-Owen Elementary School come online and begin producing carbon-free electricity.
- Winchester Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness Plan completed, detailing a range of climate-related hazards that the Town will need to prepare for in order to remain resilient.
- New Climate Action Plan completed, detailing 49 measures to reduce carbon pollution, and 9 measures to enhance community resilience to climate change, to achieve an 80 percent reduction in carbon pollution by 2050.
- Metropolitan Area Planning Council Accelerating Climate Resiliency grant awarded to support Winchester in hiring a permanent Sustainability Director to assist the town in becoming more resilient to future impacts from climate change.
- Winchester High School's rooftop solar array comes online and begins producing carbon-free electricity.
- Heat Statement adopted by Select Board, emphasizing the hazards of future heat waves and steps the Town should take to prepare.
- Winchester hosts its first ever Climate Week, a series of educational events, in September.
- Town Meeting votes to fund a Sustainability Director, a new permanent staff position. Resident Ken Pruitt is hired to fill the position and begins work on October 12.