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Fossil Fuel Free Demonstration Program

Monday, September 25, 2023
" The City has significantly increased the number of trees it plants annually. The City collects and recycles more than 9,000 tons of materials annually. By stopping food waste from going to a landfill, we prevent greenhouse gas emissions. "

Q: What is the Fossil Fuel Free Demonstration Program?

A: Cambridge is one of 10 communities in Massachusetts that has been authorized to participate in a Fossil Fuel Free Demonstration Program pilot. If approved, it would require new buildings built in Cambridge and major renovations of existing buildings – such as homes, residential buildings, and commercial buildings – to be fossil fuel free by using all-electric systems rather than oil and natural gas that many buildings use for heating, cooling and cooking. Labs, hospitals and medical offices are exempt.

Q: Why is it important?

A: Making new buildings and major renovations (commonly 50 percent or more of a building’s floor area) in Cambridge fossil fuel-free would result in healthier air – both indoors and outdoors -- and continued progress towards our climate goals. Examples of heating, cooling and cooking appliances that are fossil fuel free include heat pumps, solar water heaters, and induction cooktops.

Alongside the City, the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources will collect building permit data to evaluate program impacts.

Q: If approved, how is Cambridge going to help residents, businesses and institutions?

A: Through the Cambridge Energy Alliance (CEA), the City of Cambridge offers a valuable service to help residents, businesses, and institutions become more energy efficient and access renewable energy services. Staff at the CEA can connect residents, businesses and institutions to technical support, no-cost energy assessments, financing options, and educational resources.

Q: What is the timeline for the project?

A: Following a community engagement process that included webinars, an online survey and marketing outreach, and hearings, the final ordinance and plan was submitted to the City Council and approved in early August 2023. With its approval, participating cities and towns will have to ordain the fossil fuel-free requirements by July 2024.

To learn more about the program and follow progress, you can visit the Cambridge Community Development Department’s “Sustainable Development” website at: www.cambridgema.gov/fossilfuelfree

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