Since we have recently launched the planning process for Resilient Watertown, our Climate and Energy Plan, this is a great opportunity to look back on the climate work that our community has accomplished over the decades. It’s also an opportunity for each of you to get involved today by taking our survey!
Climate change will intensify existing climate hazards in Watertown, with impacts to community health, local natural resources, and infrastructure. Town leadership recognizes that we must lessen our climate change-inducing emissions and protect residents from potential harm. But this is not a newfound issue- the Town and our community have taken the climate crisis seriously for decades.
Watertown is a place that cultivates innovation and has done so for centuries. From the Arsenal, to the mills and manufacturing done along the Charles River, to today’s burgeoning life sciences sector, our community embodies an innovative spirit. But this spirit also extends to climate action and green technologies.
Back in 2010, Watertown became a Certified Green Community, in the program’s second year of existence. This has enabled the Town to undertake actions such as replacing over 2,000 streetlights with LED bulbs and lighting efficiency upgrades at public buildings and schools. Since the base year of 2010 Watertown has reduced its municipal energy usage, and the resulting greenhouse gas emissions, by over 14%.
More recently, the Town has reached further to increase its climate mitigation efforts. In 2018 Watertown became the first community in New England to pass a solar mandate for new commercial development projects. We also participated in a Bus Rapid Transit pilot program in 2019 along Mount Auburn Street, an effort that was so popular and successful that it has been made permanent. Also in 2019, the Town launched the Watertown Electricity Choice program, increasing residents’ share of renewable energy going to their homes to 53% (there’s also an opportunity to Opt Up to 100% renewable energy).
Watertown has a long history of climate work, but we could not have achieved these and other successes without the support and hard work of the community.
The Power of Community
The long history of climate work in Watertown has been driven by engaged citizens. The Watertown Environment and Energy Efficiency Committee, or WE3C, was established in 2003 by a group of motivated residents. This appointed committee advises the Town on a wide variety of environmental issues and was one of the key catalysts for our Climate and Energy Plan. they and other environmental groups in town have also been instrumental in the roll-out and communication about key initiatives, such as Watertown Electricity Choice and tree planting on private property.
The Teens for Trees program is an excellent example of a grassroots effort that continues to collaborate with the Town and generate tangible benefits. Teens for Trees is a summer program, run by Trees for Watertown, that teaches local youth to be stewards of our urban forest. Past initiatives have included a street tree inventory that provided valuable data to our Town departments.
The Town and residents continue to work together to drive innovative solutions to the climate crisis and cultivate a community that is happy, healthy, and strong for decades to come.
The Resilient Watertown planning process is building on all these past achievements. The Plan will be thoroughly informed by community members, local experts, and inter-agency collaboration that will make the Plan unique to our community and prepare us for a resilient and carbon neutral future.
We need you!
Please watch for our surveys, focus groups, public meetings, and events. Help shape the plan that will chart a course for a more resilient Watertown and be a part of the important, and necessary, climate work that our community is doing!
Take the Resilient Watertown Survey
Take the Survey for Renters