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Investing in Equity and Justice for the Next Generation: Becoming a Carbon Free Milton

Henry MacLean

As we all struggle to manage our lives in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, this crisis is now compounded by the current awakening to 400 years of endemic racism in our culture. African and Native Americans communities are not only disproportionally vulnerable to the brutal effects of this pandemic, they are also more susceptible to a third existential crisis unfolding in our lives at this time, climate change and the related diseases accompanying environmental degradation and pollution. Working to secure a climate friendly future is something we can and must invest in, for this and the next generation of all races on this planet. Some 80% of households in Massachusetts are now heating directly with fossil fuels, which according to our scientists must go down to 0% by 2050. Maintaining a heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system that efficiently provides clean indoor air quality is something every Milton homeowner can invest in to help secure a carbon free world. Coupled with whole house air purifiers that collect and filter out dust, pollen and bacteria, humidifiers and dehumidifiers that manage proper humidity levels, energy recovery ventilators (ERV’s) save additional energy by bringing in fresh pre-conditioned air. To this end, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center(MASS CEC) has just extended the deadline for the Whole-Home Air Source Heat Pump Pilot though December 2020 for all existing and new homes. The incentives from $2,500 to $5,500 (based on annual income) are available for homes that switch over all of their home heating needs from fossil fuels to new electrically powered heat pumps, with $500 adder to perform a Blower Door Test. These systems operate at an efficiency rate 3 to 4 times that of an energy star gas boiler or furnace, resulting in up to 75% annual energy savings. With one’s own solar electric solar electric (photovoltaic of PV) system, your home can now be on a carbon free pathway. While PV is a financial win-win for over 50% of homes in Milton, all homes can buy Renewable Energy Credits (REC’s) to maintain carbon free status as well. (see 100% renewable sources at Energy Switch Massachusetts) This CEC program makes perfect sense for those with conventional gas boilers or furnaces approaching the average 20 year life span, which accounts for about 60% of homes in Milton. Mass Save will also provide 7 year 0% loans of up to $25,000 to cover the lions share of the costs for these high efficiency heat pumps that will both heat and cool ones home. This annual cost of this 25 K loan ($3,600) is offset by the typical annual energy savings of $ 2,500 and a conservative 6 % interest on what would alternately be a new HVAC investment, yielding another $1,500 annually. In addition to the Mass Save and Mass CEC programs, the Mass Save Residential Renovations and Additions program and DOER Home Energy Market Value Performance (HomeMVP) programs provide additional incentives to help insulate and air seal new and existing homes to reduce energy loads. Journalist Thomas Friedman reminds us that… “ the first rule of scientists for climate change mitigation happens to be the first rule for public health officials of Covid-19 mitigation: Manage the unavoidable so that you can avoid the unmanageable.” He goes on to quote the CEO of Energy Innovation, Hal Harvey. …“an early sickness becomes a citywide problem,…and morphs into an epidemic….Each early-avoided illness saves thousands of lives down the road.” Climate change works the same way. “If we defrost the tundra in Alaska, Canada and Russia, for example, that thawing soil will emit billions of tons of further carbon dioxide and methane. Only early action can prevent a runaway catastrophe. ”So as we come to accept our shared responsibility and begin to redress the interwoven inequities that built this nation, we are reminded of the Chinese word for crisis (Weiji), an opportunity fora“changing point”. Taking ownership for one’s own carbon footprint is a critical social step to a New Green Deal, and for securing an equitable and just future for us all.



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