Jim Turner: Praises net-zero-energy bylaw

Tuesday, December 05, 2017
Praises net-zero-energy bylaw

On Nov. 8, two articles were presented to Amherst Town Meeting pertaining to our battle with global warming.

The first was a resolution calling for Amherst to achieve a 100 percent renewable energy goal by 2050. It passed unanimously. There was little debate and much rejoicing. Amherst had found something we can all agree on: limiting the damage of climate change.

The next article was a proposed bylaw mandating all new construction by the town, costing over $1 million, must be net-zero-energy compliant. Net-zero means the building will provide all of its own energy needs using renewable energy generated on or off site.

While initially costing more to construct, it pays for itself within 16 years when the savings start accumulating year after year for the life of the building, regardless of the price and availability of energy in the future. Did we all vote “yes” and rejoice again? Alas, no.

Select Board members, unanimous as usual, requested that Town Meeting refer the article back to them so that they could tweak the bylaw into something they could support at a later date.

What was the big difference between the two articles? The first was a grand gesture while the second one had teeth, small ones. It mandated that net-zero requirement be achieved under penalty of being forced to keep trying to comply every year, until it does.

Fortunately, we still have a Town Meeting because a majority of our 240 volunteer resident legislators refused to refer the article back to the council of five and passed this precedent-setting, money-saving, carbon-footprint-lowering bylaw. Thank you.

Jim Turner


The writer is a Town Meeting member from Precinct 10.