As we race toward ambitious climate goals it’s critical that we’re inclusive of communities that have historically been underserved. CET is deeply committed to DEI and finding ways to improve our services and interactions with the communities we serve. As we seek to accelerate decarbonization, the climate industry must expand language access, remove barriers, and reach a diverse range of communities.  Recently, thanks to support from the Community Climate Fund we completed a pilot project using Spanish interpretation to increase engagement with our waste and energy programs. This is just one step in our comprehensive strategy to increase decarbonization and climate equity. 

A selfie featuring four people sitting in a car in Worcester.


In 2022, we tried to support Latin-owned restaurants in the MassDEP RecyclingWorks program, which CET administers. We quickly realized that without interpretation available, we wouldn’t be able to provide the level of service customers expect. We also know that restaurant owners are busy and often working with staffing constraints, so meeting them in-person would increase efficacy. By going in-person, we could also amplify sustainable opportunities by finding energy efficiency, weatherization, and electrification opportunities at the same time, which are incentivized by the Mass Save program. 

The pilot sought to improve outreach to underserved communities and small businesses, overcome language barriers with interpreter services, and build processes that will allow us to scale these services. Worcester, Massachusetts was chosen as the location of the pilot due to the city’s high concentration of Latin American food businesses. More specifically, the pilot had a goal of reaching 8 to 10 Latin food businesses in Worcester by translating documents and using interpreter services for in-person and phone outreach. Using an interpreter required us to consolidate visits over two days, making it critical to visit as many businesses as possible within that timeframe. To improve future outreach to underserved communities, we also used the pilot project to document the costs, successes, challenges, and opportunities related to embedding language services in our site visits. 

Five people stand in a hallway.


Using translated postcards and phone outreach, over 30 businesses were contacted ahead of time, with 20 receiving in-person visits. Next, with the aid of an interpreter, we visited 20 businesses over a two-day period. All of the businesses we contacted and visited were in environmental justice communities in Worcester. Our outreach resulted in 11 businesses receiving energy assessments, 8 receiving direct installs of energy efficiency measures such as smart thermostats or LED lights, and 7 engaging in our waste reduction services. This represents an engagement level 50% greater than at a typical Downtown Drawdown event. Overall, the project was successful at engaging customers in the Latin food community in Worcester and highlighting opportunities to make our services and outreach more accessible to Spanish speakers.  

Two men sit in a car, another person in the car makes a peace sign.

Room for Improvement 

As a result of the pilot, CET has made concrete changes to improve language access to our services. We now have a Spanish menu option on the RecyclingWorks commercial waste hotline where hotline staff are able to utilize on-demand interpretation services. Moving forward, we plan to use interpretation services, as needed, for our utility-sponsored Main Street events,  our recorded waste assistance training, and Downtown Drawdown events where we help businesses drawdown carbon and the associated costs. Businesses can fill out this form to learn more about our decarbonization services and set up a site visit. To further expand the accessibility of our services, CET has also committed to hiring more multilingual staff members.  With these changes, we are confident that we can help more small businesses in more communities to accelerate adoption rates and to decarbonize.  

Four people stand in a grocery store.

What’s Next?  

CET is committed to overcoming barriers that prevent customers from working with our programs. Moving forward, language access will be a priority in planning outreach efforts. This pilot and initiative are part of CET’s broader push towards greater diversity, equity, and inclusion. For a more detailed look at DEI at CET, read our 2022 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Annual Reportopens PDF file .