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June 26, 2024 Stephen Dotson 2.5 Min Read

What is the Global Warming Solutions Fund?

In spring of 2021, the Brattleboro Selectboard established what was first called the Fossil Fuel Free Facilities Fund (later changed to Global Warming Solutions Fund or GWSF), in order to enable the Town to reduce its emissions and contributions to climate change from its operations.

This funding was created to be spent within the following 6 domains:

1. Efficiency work (weatherization, air-sealing, insulation, higher building performance standards, heating systems, lighting systems, control systems, and more)

2. Energy generation (solar, hydro, geothermal, methane digester, etc.)

3. Energy storage (battery storage and energy recovery technologies)

4. Electrification/de-carbonization (including buildings, equipment, and vehicles)

5. Other Emissions Reduction Methods - The addition of this category in 2022 allowed for use of the funds for projects that would result in the elimination and/or replacement of any chemicals (such as refrigerants used at the Town’s ice rink, or methane emitted from the wastewater treatment plant) that possess significant global warming potential (GWP).

6. Planning, Project Design, and Indirect/Admin costs to enable any projects in the areas listed above.

The fund was initially capitalized with the monies that had accrued in the Town’s Energy Efficiency budget line item and was provided an annual contribution of $70,000 through 2024, which can accrue year over year. At Town Meeting in 2024, this annual allotment was doubled to $140,000.

The three most prominent uses of the fund to date are: the transition to natural refrigerant at the ice rink, an LED lighting upgrade, and electrification of gas-powered tools and equipment in Town operations.

Future projects that are considering this funding include: installation of EV charging stations at Town parking lots and buildings, an upgrade to the heating and cooling controls at the Central Fire Station, and more insulation, new heating/cooling controls, and a non-fossil fuel heating system at the Gibson Aiken Center.

A photo of an EV charging station in the town of Brattleboro.

The Town Manager can approve expenditures under $10,000, while all other requests must be approved by the Selectboard. The Selectboard determined that these funds should not cover the entirety of a project, but should cover the difference between the cost of replacing something in-kind versus a higher performing option that reduces emissions or generates clean energy instead of emissions-based energy.

As one example, suppose a department wished to purchase an electric vehicle. If a standard gas-powered vehicle was $35,000, and an electric vehicle of the same quality $45,000, the Global Warming Solutions Fund could provide the $10,000 necessary to go electric.

In a building example: if a gas boiler is being replaced, and the Town has a choice between another gas boiler for $145,000 and an energy efficient wood pellet boiler for $175,000, the fund could potentially provide $30,000.

This funding has made it so Brattleboro can move away from fossil fuel use without straining the individual budgets of the Town departments performing the project.

Stay tuned for more stories about the impact of the Global Warming Solutions Fund.