Stands with Environmental, Community Leaders to Share Actions to Achieve Net Zero Energy City Vision, Lake Clean-Up Initiatives
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jordan Redell
Burlington, VT – Today, Mayor Miro Weinberger, standing with environmental and community leaders, announced a three-year environmental plan (full plan attached) that prioritizes the following goals:
- Taking steps to help Burlington become a Net Zero Energy City across electric, thermal, and ground transportation sectors over the next 15 years by implementing a district heating system, strategic electrification, and investing in e-buses and e-bikes.
- Advocating to create a new Vermont Stormwater Authority through leadership on the Vermont Mayors Coalition and the Vermont League of Cities and Towns.
- Expanding the impact of the Vermont Climate Pledge Coalition by hosting an annual summit to track climate pledges and by creating a system for tracking and reporting cumulative progress towards pledged goals.
“In 2014, Burlington achieved a remarkable milestone by sourcing 100 percent of its electricity from renewable generation,” said Mayor Weinberger. “We have had an overwhelming response to that achievement, and now we are doubling down on that effort by taking major steps to becoming a Net Zero Energy City over the next 15 years and by championing bold action to clean up and protect Lake Champlain.”
The following state and local environmental and community leaders attended the announcement and shared the following thoughts:
Gabrielle Stebbins, Chair of the Burlington Electric Commission and Senior Consultant at Energy Futures Group, stated: "Mayor Weinberger follows up his words with action. During his tenure as Mayor, I've been impressed with his call for the Burlington Electric Department to lead on energy innovation by specifically taking steps to transition Burlington into a net zero energy city. And his net zero call has been coupled with his push for strategic electrification throughout our City. The Mayor has challenged our community to use electricity instead of fossil fuels, leading BED to offer innovative electric vehicle rebates and financing programs helping more Burlingtonians drive electric, to help Green Mountain Transit secure enough funding to order its first four electric buses, and to offer electric bike incentives to help our community members move away from gasoline-powered vehicles.
Scott Johnstone, CEO of Packetized Energy and immediate past Executive Director of Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, said, “Mayor Weinberger has an impressive record on the environment and energy. The progress has been both incredible and accomplished with an eye toward affordability. Best yet, he understands there is still much to do and offers the vision needed for Burlington to remain livable and a champion of sustainability moving forward.”
Chad Nichols, Director of Project Development and Construction at Encore Renewable Energy, stated: “As someone who has chosen to live and work in Burlington for nearly 10 years, I have witnessed under Miro’s leadership the establishment of Burlington as an environmental, sustainability-focused leader in the 21st century restoration and climate economies, raising the bar for cities across the region and our nation. At Encore Renewable Energy, we have worked with Burlington Electric, the Airport, and the City on unique efficiently scaled solar projects, which serve both our community and our planet, as well as create local jobs and municipal revenues. We hope to see Miro continue to position Burlington as a magnet for other young folks who want to find meaningful work in a City that values its environmental and energy resources, all while being a cool place to live. Thank you, Miro, for your leadership.”
Burlington State Representative Mary Sullivan, who serves as Vice Chair of the House Committee on Natural Resources, Fish, and Wildlife, was unable to attend today’s announcement but stated: "Mayor Weinberger consistently has exhibited strong leadership on legislative issues in Montpelier through his leadership of both the Vermont Mayors Coalition and the Vermont League of Cities and Towns. Miro's support of a statewide stormwater authority to meet Vermont's water quality standards demonstrates his understanding that the time to get moving on water clean-up is now, or Vermont will start to see our clean, green reputation go down the tubes fast."
Matt Moore, Chair of the Burlington Conservation Board, who was also unable to attend today’s announcement, stated: “Miro has been steadfast in his support for open space conservation and increasing public access to recreation and the outdoors. He understands the importance of conserving and preserving open space, and the link between economic development and our ability to afford conservation. Miro has led a successful effort to lay much groundwork toward our conservation goals through use of the City’s Conservation Legacy Fund. For example, use of the Fund has helped preserve the 12-acre corridor on the former Catholic Diocese property permanently protecting public recreational access from the Old North End to the bike path and waterfront. The next three years offer incredible conservation opportunities that depend on leadership continuity in City Hall.”
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Burlington Leads the Way on the Environment
Environmental Accomplishments + Three-Year Plan
Burlington has a long history of leading on environmental issues. Mayor Miro Weinberger has continued this legacy as aggressively as his predecessors and set even more ambitious goals for the years immediately ahead.
The Next Three Years of Environmental Leadership
Implement plan to become Net Zero Energy City – In 2016, Burlington created a strategic plan to become a Net Zero Energy City across electric, thermal, and ground transportation sectors over the next 15 years. The next three years will be critical to meeting this goal. We will pursue this goal through:
- District Heating System – After decades of unsuccessful efforts, the City is on the cusp of building a system to significantly lower the City’s greenhouse gas emissions by tapping into heat from the McNeil biomass facility. In 2018, the City will complete feasibility assessment efforts and, if cost-effective for customers, break ground on the new system by 2020.
- Strategic Electrification – The City will pursue numerous efforts to shift automobiles and buildings onto the renewable electric grid through programs, such as:
o Creating new Electric Vehicle (EV) incentives. In the last six months, the City has begun offering best-in-the-state rebates for Burlingtonians to purchase EVs, as well as innovative financing approaches by partnering with local credit unions. Further, in 2018, the City will seek regulatory approval for lower electric rates for charging EVs during off-peak hours – cutting the fuel cost to less than $1.00 per gasoline gallon equivalent.
o Converting the municipal vehicle fleet to electric power. The City is conducting a comprehensive assessment of its vehicle fleet with an eye toward converting to EVs whenever practical, beginning in fiscal year (FY) 2019.
o Offering incentives to increase the use of electric heat pumps. For certain customers, electric heat pumps are a cost-effective, renewable alternative to fossil fuel for heating their homes. The City will continue efforts to promote the switch away from oil, propane, and natural gas.
- Empowering Burlingtonians to control energy future – The City is committed to making the power of our renewable electric grid accessible to all residents and businesses through programs at Burlington Electric:
o E-Buses: In 2018, the first all-electric busses will roll out through Green Mountain Transit as a result of City incentives, giving transit riders the benefit of the energy revolution.
o E-Bikes: In the coming year, the City will ramp up a program to incentivize the purchase of electric bikes, moving Burlingtonians away from fossil fuel powered cars and making the hill ascents from Battery to Prospect a little more manageable for riders of all ability levels.
o 2030 District: The City will join Burlington’s “2030 District” – a unique partnership among local businesses and institutions to reduce building energy consumption, water use, and transportation emissions by 50 percent by 2030. Burlington is one of only 16 communities in the nation to host a 2030 District, and the City has been instrumental in its start-up and growth in our community.
- Create new Vermont Stormwater Authority – Mayor Weinberger supports the creation of a statewide Stormwater Authority to implement Vermont’s total maximum daily load (TMDL) plan in a way that is effective, efficient, and fair. He will advocate for its creation by the state as Mayor, and through his leadership of the Vermont Mayors Coalition and Vermont League of Cities and Towns.
- Expand the Impact of the Vermont Climate Pledge Coalition – In 2017, Mayor Weinberger co-founded the Coalition and hosted with the Energy Action Network a successful 200-person summit in Burlington where more than 25 organizations made pledges. Going forward, Mayor Weinberger will make the summit an annual event, work to secure additional pledges, and create a system for tracking and reporting cumulative progress towards the pledged goals.
- Continue era of new investment in City Parks and Land Conservation – The last six years have been an era of remarkable investment in new City parks (see below). This era of public investment will continue over the next three years with the building of a new park west of the Water Plant in 2018, the rebuilding of City Hall Park projected for 2019, and new investment in Oakledge Park planned for 2020.
As a first-time candidate for mayor in 2012, Mayor Weinberger released an environmental sustainability plan. Six years later, the City has addressed many of the goals of that plan, and more. Environmental highlights of the last six years include:
Energy Efficiency + Renewable Energy
· Burlington becoming, in 2014, the first city in the nation to source 100 percent of its energy from renewable generation following the purchase of the Winooski One Hydro Facility.
· Passing, with voter support, new zoning for the downtown core, and later the entire downtown, requiring all major new buildings to meet very high-energy performance standards (LEED Gold or other ambitious standards).
· Increasing total solar installations in the City from 25 in 2012 to more than 160 now and creation of the innovative Solar Shopper “one-stop shop” program to improve Burlington Electric Department (BED) customer access to solar installers.
· Weatherization of 247 apartments through the energyChamp Challenge partnership between BED and Vermont Gas.
· Creation of the energyChamp portal to empower BED customers to understand and better manage their energy consumption.
· In the FY18 budget, the City institutionalized this type of investment by reinvesting budgetary savings in a new $500,000 Green Revolving Loan Fund.
· After many unsuccessful efforts, strengthening the bus system through the opening in 2016 of the Transit Center in the St. Paul street right-of-way.
· Increasing the annual rebuilding of sidewalks from approximately one mile a year to three miles a year.
· Passage in 2016 of an ambitious planBTV Walk Bike Masterplan that will shift Burlington’s transportation patterns away from vehicle trips over time. The City has begun implementing the plan with expanded bike lanes and Burlington’s first protected bike lane.
· Rebuilding and enhancement of five miles of the City’s waterfront Bike Path.
· Increasing the City’s Electric Vehicle (EV) charging ports from 0 to 26.
Protecting Lake Champlain
· Increasing annual investment in the lake-protecting stormwater utility by over 60 percent.
· City successfully advocated for progressive, integrated stormwater planning to be included in the state’s new TMDL plan.
· Passing, with voter support, new zoning for the downtown core, and later the entire downtown, with the toughest stormwater requirements in the state.
· Securing 2016 voter support for up to eight blocks of new downtown infrastructure that will include one of state’s leading Green Infrastructure installations (stormwater run-off protection that also improves street trees and plantings).
· Created new Great Streets standards that codify Green Infrastructure installations for all future downtown street right-of-way work.
Advocacy on Climate Change
· Co-founded in 2017 the Vermont Climate Pledge Coalition to rally municipalities, businesses, educational institutions, and others to continue Vermont’s commitment and progress towards the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.
· Mayor Weinberger is part of the Sierra Club Mayors for 100% Clean Energy.
Park Improvements and Land Conservation
· Purchased new 12-acre park as part of Cambrian Rise project.
· Created new public beach and park at northern end of Urban Reserve.
· Purchased and created new Archibald Street Community Garden.
· Completed 99 Penny For Parks improvement projects, including rebuilding of Leddy softball field, rehabilitation of Calahan soccer fields, building the new Starr Farm playground, and creating new facilities in Roosevelt Park.