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October 7, 2013

Manchester steps up its 'green' push

MANCHESTER — The town that established — then postponed — a ban on the single-use plastic bag is taking new steps toward being recognized as a designated “green community,” while students at Manchester Essex Regional High School are stepping up their environmental efforts, as well.

The application process to make Manchester a state-designated Green Community is underway, and the deadline is approaching. The application is due toward the end of the month, said first-year Town Administrator Gregory Federspiel — whose previous town of Lenox had gained “green community” status.

The bid in Manchester comes as the town prepares to implement its ban on the distribution of thin-filmed plastic bags by local businesses —a step that gained approval at Town Meeting in the spring and was slated to begin July 1. It was then postponed to allow businesses to unload the remaining bags they had on hand.

It also comes on the heels of an energy audit by Guardian Energy Management Solutions. The town is in the process of getting a report on where the town can save energy dollars, Federspiel said.

”The global view is that there are certainly some areas to save some money,” Federspiel said.

One of the biggest opportunities locally is at Memorial Elementary School, he said, and the Manchester Essex Regional School Committee is weighing its energy-efficient options for the aging Memorial School, as well.

Other energy-savings opportunities include a better heating system for the town’s fire department, and new pumps and wastewater installations for the Department of Public Works, Federspiel said.

Energy-saving measures would require town investment, Federspiel noted.

“It costs money to save money,” he said.

He added, however, that if the town gains state recognition as a “green community,” grant money from the state could be used to fund those improvements; earlier, town officials estimated that some $135,000 in state energy grants could be flowing Manchester’s way if the town gains the designation.

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