Everett City Hall Takes Bold Steps Towards Sustainability

Special to the Independent

Mayor Carlo DeMaria is pleased to announce that the City of Everett has partnered with energy consulting company Ameresco to increase energy reduction measures to meet local and state climate action goals. Through these efforts, the City recently installed a white roof and a new solar array on top of City Hall. The panels will produce approximately 110,195 kWh of energy and save $26,996 in energy costs in the first year alone, and the white roof will significantly reduce cooling costs.

By installing the white or cool roof, the City hopes to do its part to counter the heat island effect downtown. The heat island effect occurs when urban areas experience higher temperatures than surrounding areas due to highly concentrated development, such as buildings, roads, lack of green spaces, and other infrastructure. This exacerbates high temperatures by absorbing and reemitting the sun’s heat into the atmosphere. The cool roof is designed to reflect more sunlight than a conventional roof, absorbing less solar energy and lowering the temperature of the building. Traditional black roofs can reach temperatures of 150°F or more on a sunny summer afternoon, while a reflective roof could stay more than 50°F cooler on the same day.

In addition to those energy-saving measures, the City has installed an air quality monitor to collect data for a three-year air quality study called CLEANAIR. The EPA-funded project will include a partnership with Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA) and Tufts University to monitor air quality at community-identified locations in Everett, Malden, Charlestown, and East Boston. The residents of these communities suffer from some of the highest rates of illnesses, such as asthma, associated with air pollution related to transportation and industry in Massachusetts.

The CLEAN AIR project will measure background levels of air pollution for three years using long-term monitoring sites at three sites in the Lower Mystic. Stationary monitors are deployed to measure ultrafine particles which are an indicator of local traffic-related emissions as well as PM10 and PM2.5 that indicate background levels of regional pollution. One of these long-term monitors is now set up on the City Hall roof, collecting air quality data from Broadway. Simultaneously, a 12-member Community Advisory Board (CAB) will gather input from communities on air quality concerns (by surveys and listening sessions) and guide the development of intensive monitoring projects to answer questions raised by the community.  The outreach will specifically target residents disproportionately impacted by poor air quality with the hope of delivering actionable data to advocate for healthy solutions.

“The project team wants to better understand traffic-related air pollution (TRAP) in Everett and the impact on public health,” said Patrick Herron, MyRWA Executive Director. “Through this project we will both hear what residents are concerned about and study conditions with an eye toward creating healthier communities. MyRWA appreciates the partnership with Mayor DeMaria and the City of Everett on this important issue.”

In regards to these efforts, Mayor DeMaria stated, “The residents of the City of Everett know the results of storing and burning fossil fuels. We have carried these burdens for far too long, and our residents have suffered. From housing powerplants fired by coal, then oil, then gas, from ExxonMobil tanks polluting our land and waterfront to parkways that are now major roads cutting through the heart of our community, we have paid the price. Now is the time to reduce our carbon footprint by installing solar and purchasing clean, zero-emissions energy, using electric buses, trains, and automobiles, planting trees, and renewing our parks and natural areas while creating resilient greenspaces and, in return, healthier air quality. Finally, we must document what pollution exists now and how it is impacting the health of our residents. In turn, we are actively resisting those individuals and agencies who want to continue to pollute our community by creating resilient and inclusive solutions.”

For more information on the CLEANAIR study or to participate in the survey, please visit mysticriver.org/cleanair.

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