Municipal Buildings Meet Net Zero-Ready Goals

GREENFIELD – Municipal buildings throughout the city, such as the recently completed Greenfield Public Library and the under-construction Greenfield Fire Station, are embracing clean energy by achieving net zero-ready status. This effort by the Greenfield Energy and Sustainability Department, department heads and collaborating construction teams helps the city advance closer to the state’s climate goal for municipalities to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030.

Net zero-ready buildings are constructed with the goal of producing as much clean energy as they consume. They are built with extra installation, high-performance windows and airtight standards to minimize their heating and cooling needs. For a building to achieve net zero energy, a renewable energy system, such as solar panels, must be installed to activate the building’s full energy reduction potential. 

The Greenfield Public Library is a high-performance, all-electric building that hosts a 47.4 kW rooftop solar array expected to supply around 30 percent of the building’s electricity needs. These inclusions did not negatively impact the project’s expenses, as the library was completed under budget by over $1 million. 

The new fire station is being built with the same high-performance standards. Once completed, the structure will be energy-efficient and almost fully electric. This results in long-term savings by reducing energy bills. 

The library and fire station join a fleet of clean energy municipal buildings. The John Zon Community Center remains net zero-ready after opening in 2017. The DPW Office Building, constructed in 2018 as net zero-ready, recently achieved net zero energy status thanks to a generous donation from Greenfield resident Bill Ashley. 

City Hall has also been retrofitted to improve its efficiency, including the integration of air source heat pumps and a heat pump water heater. The city’s last municipal building to rely on oil, the DPW Wastewater Treatment Plant, will soon rely on energy from a high-efficiency water source heat pump system. Both projects were paid for through Green Communities Grants and Eversource incentives. 

The Energy and Sustainability Department’s efforts resulted in over 28 percent municipal energy reduction in fiscal year 2023. Greenfield Light and Power supplies 100% green electricity for each municipal building. 

“Although none of it has been without challenges, I hope these achievements stand as strong evidence that even if it seems impossible, so much can and needs to be accomplished to reduce energy use in all residential, commercial and industrial applications for little to no cost through the many great Massachusetts programs such as MassSave, Community Action, PACE and now the Inflation Reduction Act,” said Energy and Sustainability 
Department Director Carole Collins.