Sustainable Arlington

Envision Arlington/Mass. Climate Action Network (MCAN) Chapter

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Climate Change News
A daily edited blog feed
of the top articles on climate change.

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Daily monitoring of over 20 web sites and 3 e-mail feeds to aggregate news stories on climate change.  Many of these web sites are themselves aggregations, so most climate change news stories appear here promptly and without repetition.  No more than 7 items per day are posted. Prepared by a member of Sustainable Arlington and the Climate Change Team at First Parish UU of Arlington.


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Welcome to Sustainable Arlington

We support HeatSmart Arlington-Winchester 2019

Learn more: HeatSmart Arlington-Winchester

Sustainable Arlington acts on the local level to promote climate stabilization and other important environmental goals.  We are a Town of Arlington Environment Committee under Envision Arlington (formerly Vision 2020) and a chapter of the Massachusetts Climate Action Network.  See our yearly project statement in the Town of Arlington Annual Report, under Community Development and Planning, 

If you have ideas for ways Arlington can reduce home and Town energy consumption, speed up the switch to renewable energy, or manage Arlington's environmental resources more sustainably, please come to one of our  monthly meetings listed on this website.

Thanks for visiting.


Arlington Advocate articles

Posted May 23, 2017 at 2:55 PM

By This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

"Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine on behalf of the town negotiated a new default electricity plan called Arlington Local Green last week that will provide alternatives to the default plan offered by Eversource most residents are currently under."

Read the full article at:

Arlington Advocate

By Roberto Scalese

Bright lights, big town.

The streets of Arlington are due for some major changes this fall, as the town prepares to replace all of the streetlights in Arlington. Doomed are the cobra-head mercury vapor lights that dominate the nights. In their places come high-pressure sodium lamps with shielded casings.

While the costs come up front, the town expects the change to pay for itself through lower utility bills within a year-and-a-half, according to a memorandum released by acting Town Manager Nancy Galkowski.

At the Monday Board of Selectmen meeting, Galkowski said using the 50-watt sodium lamps will provide more light at a cheaper rate for the town. The new casings will keep the light directed down at the street, which will help reduce glare and light pollution of the night sky.

"This is an extremely important project we are undertaking and it effects every citizen in town," said Galkowski.

The move to sodium is endorsed by Sustainable Arlington, an organization dedicated to helping the town become more environmentally friendly and efficient.

State Rep. Jim Marzilli, D-Arlington, is pleased with the development. Marzilli has for years advocated dark sky legislation, which would have cities and towns replace their light fixtures with similar, more economic and environmentally-friendlier fixtures.

"The legislation was added to the budget on the house side but a light company fought it and had it defeated in the Senate," said Marzilli. "By putting the light into a fixture, you are directing the light down where you need it to go and you end up needing a lower wattage."

The move makes economic sense, but some towns and companies do not want to spend the up-front cash to reap the savings, said Marzilli. The current fixtures lose light that beams out beside the fixture, lighting nothing and creating glare.

"Light is like salt. More is not always better," said Marzilli. Flood lights beside buildings, for example, are not always more effective than a directed light at a door or wall. "People think that adding more light makes things safer, but the glare can actually prevent you from seeing that guy in the bushes."

That glare makes changing the fixtures a safety issue, according to Marzilli. Glare from street lights can wash windshields in white, limiting visibility.

Sample lights are still up along Grey Street between Pleasant and Mount Vernon streets, and along Oak Hill Drive. The sodium lamps presented use various levels of wattage. Brighter lights will be used at larger intersections and at high-traffic locations.

Selectmen were generally supportive of the measure, although some concerns were expressed about the brightness at night.

"This is a bedroom community," said Selectman Charles Lyons. "Some of these lights are very bright for neighborhoods."

Selectman Kathy Dias, along with the other selectmen, asked for updates of public feedback as the new lights were installed.

"We need more feedback as we go along," said Dias.

Arlington Advocate

Nov. 14, 2002


The chandelier at the Robbins Library's entrance hall.

The Robbins Library should save around $9,000 a year in electricity costs, thanks to its collaboration with Sustainable Arlington and NSTAR to replace old lights with more efficient fixtures.

The entrance hall of the Robbins Library is a striking space, rising four stories in an open atrium, and lit by one huge, historic chandelier that holds 20 bulbs. In the past, these lights burned out quickly due to the short life of standard incandescent bulbs.

Now, 20 new compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) glow in the chandelier and the entrance hall is noticeably brighter. These new lights are expected to last eight times longer before needing replacement and use just a fraction of the electricity of the old lights.

Although the chandelier is the most noticeable change, the Robbins Library has actually replaced more than 800 lighting fixtures this summer in a move that is projected to save $9,000 in electricity each year. The retrofit was funded in part using Massachusetts state energy efficiency funds administered by NSTAR Electric.

In April 2001, Maryellen Loud, director of the Robbins Library, was approached by members of Sustainable Arlington, a local citizens group under Vision 2020 that promotes energy efficiency.

"Our goal is to raise awareness of how easily we can all save money and energy while reducing our environmental impacts, and where better to begin than the town library," said Ryan Katofsky of Sustainable Arlington.

Sustainable Arlington proposed that the library replace 38, 75-watt bulbs in decorative wall sconces in the reading room with CFLs. Loud was initially concerned about the aesthetics of changing the lighting, but the project went forward when NSTAR donated a supply of 20-Watt CFLs.

"People don't seem to notice the change, but several areas of the library are actually brighter," remarked Loud.

Building on this success, Sustainable Arlington contacted Augie Pimentel, the program manager of NSTAR's Small Commercial and Industrial Energy Efficiency Program. Pimentel arranged for an energy audit of all of the Robbins' lighting, which led to a proposal to replace 800 fixtures at a cost of nearly $40,000.

NSTAR projected at this price, the new lighting would pay for itself through energy savings in about four years. NSTAR then made the library a deal that Loud couldn't refuse: under the Small Commercial and Industrial program the utility picked up $32,000 of the $40,000 project cost, lowering the payback time to under a year.

NSTAR's contractor, Harris Energy, began to work floor by floor, replacing almost all the old lighting with new, energy-efficient products. The project is now complete and Loud is waiting for the next few months' electricity bills to confirm the efficiency savings.

One thing is already clear: the quality of the library's lighting has also improved. The new lighting is brighter, whiter, and better for reading, which is what libraries are all about.

"During tight budget times, I'm very excited that we were able to save money, yet still provide the same or better quality lighting for our customers," said Loud.

Although the CFLs use about a quarter the electricity of the old bulbs, they produce just as much light and last up to eight times as long. CFLs are sold at hardware and other stores in Arlington and are available in a variety of styles and levels of brightness. More and more people also have CFLs at home, where they are best in high-use fixtures, such as porch lights or indoor lamps that are on the most.

CFLs usually cost between $5 to 10 each and easily pay for themselves through electricity savings. NSTAR is currently offering $3 rebates on CFLs to residential customers. The rebate is available at several retailers, through NSTAR's "Energy Star Lights" catalog, by calling 1-800-473-9150 and on the web at

The NSTAR Small Commercial and Industrial program is open to both the public and private sector buildings, and is not just limited to lighting. Substantial electricity savings can be achieved by improving old air-conditioning, ventilation and refrigeration equipment.

The first step is to schedule a free energy audit to evaluate the electricity savings potential and determine program eligibility. Sustainable Arlington is now working with the Arlington schools to have energy audits done at many of the older school buildings.

Anyone interested in obtaining an energy audit for their agency or business should call NSTAR at 781-441-8592, and contact Sustainable Arlington at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Patsy Kraemer, Arlington's director of Human Services, at 781-316-3251.

Sarah Hill is a member of Sustainable Arlington.

By Jennifer Mann/ Staff Writer Arlington Advocate
Thursday, November 16, 2006


One step forward and one step back is the latest dance for wind power advocates in Arlington.

   Proponents of bringing a wind turbine to Brackett Elementary School received support from officials in July to pursue a state-sponsored grant that would bring in $40,000 for a wind feasibility study, with another $5,000 in costs split between town and school budgets.

Read more: Wind power idea still a dream

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26 Jun 2019
07:30PM - 09:00PM
SUSTAINABLE ARLINGTON June meeting, all invited
28 Jun 2019
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ARLINGTON TREE COMMITTEE meeting, open to the public