The Community Climate Fund

CET is wrapping up our third year of deploying our Community Climate Fund (CCF). The CCF is a vehicle for regional institutions and businesses to sponsor local, high-impact carbon reduction projects that help accelerate a just and equitable transition to the low-carbon economy. The fund started with an investment from Williams College in Williamstown, MA. Since 2019, Williams College has donated $300,000 to unlock a diverse portfolio of local carbon mitigation projects. Combined, these projects eliminated over 2,200 tons of lifetime CO2 emissions in Massachusetts, bolstered the financial stability of resource constrained residents and businesses, and improved the health and comfort of buildings.

Williams’ 2021-2022 investment enabled building material recovery from 38 homes and businesses, unlocked weatherization of six small businesses and nonprofits located in environmental justice communities across Massachusetts, sponsored a residential food scrap collection pilot in Williamstown, supported air source heat pump retrofits for two income-eligible customers in Ipswich, and provided a bridge loan to a cheese farmer in central Massachusetts that enabled installation of a ground-mounted solar PV array. Read on to learn more details on some of this year’s projects.

Chase Hill Farm solar PV installation

CET administers the Massachusetts Farm Energy Program, a joint project of CET and the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR). The program assists farms with implementing energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions to reduce costs and the carbon footprint of their operations. We also help farms access state and federal incentives for these solutions, which are provided on a reimbursement basis. CET proposed a portion of the FY22 Community Climate Funds be used as a revolving loan fund to provide the bridge capital that farms need, to be repaid upon receipt of incentives.

CET initiated a bridge loan with Chase Hill Farm, a 270-acre dairy farm located in Warwick, MA. The family-owned farm has been in operation since 1957 and was named a 2011 Massachusetts Outstanding Dairy Farm by the University of Massachusetts Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment. The farmstead is certified organic, 100% grass-fed, and sells cheese and raw milk.

The bridge loan will support the purchase and installation of a ground-mounted, 30-panel solar photovoltaic (PV) system. The project is estimated to cost $70,500. The farm has secured two reimbursable grants, one from MDAR for $49,500 and the other from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for $19,500. The fund will contribute $20,000 as a bridge loan and it will be reimbursed upon disbursement of the grants in late summer or fall of 2022.

Assuming an estimated production of 16,700 kWh per year, the system will generate an annual return of $6,400 in net metering, SMART credits, and Connected Solutions credits, and will offset about 7.2 tons CO2 per year and over 140 tons CO2 over the system lifetime.

Chase Hill Farm Solar PV, Community Climate Fund Project
Chase Hill Farm Solar PV Back, Climate Fund Project
Chase Hill Farm Solar PV System, Climate Fund Project

Rock of Salvation Church – Worcester, MARock of Salvation Church

The Rock of Salvation Church was built in 1860 in Worcester, MA, and is currently used by a Latinx, bilingual congregation founded in 1969.  A recent energy audit recommended air sealing and insulation of the attic, basement, and sanctuary, however, verification by a certified electrician that the existing knob and tube wiring was inactive was required before proceeding with weatherization measures. CET initiated a roadblock remediation project to verify the knob and tube wiring and help cover the co-pay for the efficiency measures.

Eversource covered a portion of the cost, and the fund contributed an additional $7,248.20. The knob and tube wiring was verified inactive, allowing installation of weatherization measures. The project will save 477 therms and 2.8 tons CO2 annually (56 tons across the measures’ lifetime).

Medeiros Auto Body – Fall River, MA

Medeiros Autobody Shop

Medeiros Auto Body is a small, minority-owned business located in a 1970-era 3,340 square foot facility in Fall River, MA. The building consists of a commercial garage and office space. CET initiated a roadblock remediation project to help cover the co-pay for efficiency measures and ensure the project moved forward.

Liberty Gas covered a portion of the cost of insulation and air sealing, venting, and knee wall/attic segregation and the fund contributed an additional $3,105.00.

The project saved 299 therms and 1.7 tons CO2 annually (34 tons across the measures’ lifetime).

Medeiros Insulation, Climate Fund Project

Attic continuous cellulose placement (above) and stairwell insulation leading up to the attic (right).

Medeiros Stairwell Insulation,Climate Fund Project

Williamstown Compost Pilot – Williamstown, MA

The CCF contributed $5,000 to help launch a composting initiative in Williamstown, which was spearheaded by a committee of residents and the WilliamstownWilliamstown Compost Logo COOL Committee working in partnership with the Town of Williamstown, the Northern Berkshire Solid Waste Management District, and Casella Waste Management. The goal is to develop comprehensive town and region-wide waste reduction and composting infrastructure as a model for other North Berkshire towns to replicate to expand composting services into their communities.

CCF funds went toward the procurement of food waste collection containers, a storage shed, backyard composters, and the design, printing, and distribution of outreach and educational materials. The compost shed at the Williamstown Transfer Station was prepped to receive food waste with the purchase of totes and sawdust to cover food waste for odor control, an access ramp was installed, and informational signs were designed, printed, and posted. The committee also successfully coordinated a billing program with participants.

Casella commenced food waste pickup via curbside collection and households started dropping off food waste to the compost shed. The pilot targets 55 household participants and 5 businesses for a total carbon offset of 11 tons CO2/year. The seed funding will be leveraged to expand participation to a scale of 200 households and 10 restaurants by year 2, for an annual carbon offset of 24 tons CO2. Over five years this investment should help eliminate 107 tons CO2.

Williamstown Transfer Station, Community Climate Fund Project

The Williamstown Transfer Station compost shed is prepped to receive food waste with the installation of an access ramp and informational signs.

Williamstown Transfer Station Inside, Community Climate Fund Project

Collection bins (black with green lids) inside the compost shed receive household food waste transferred in Eco Caddy bins (small green bin in the foreground). Sawdust (black bins) is added to the food waste for odor control.

Building Material Recovery

CCF sponsored collection of building materials from 126 donors, diverting from disposal everything from tools and hardware to windows.

CET sells the donated materials at EcoBuilding Bargains, located in Springfield for in-store shopping and offering online sales.ors, and cabinet sets. The total estimated carbon offset for the recovered goods is 42 tons CO­2 and the value of the materials is estimated at $220,000.

EcoBuilding Bargains Furniture, Community Climate Fund Project
EcoBuilding Bargains Bathtub, Community Climate Fund Project

To learn more about our Community Climate Fund click here. To help tackle climate change and build a just and equitable transition to the low-carbon economy, donate to CET today.