By Katina Caraganis

MediaNews

ASHBY -- Members of the Ashby Energy Committee are hoping to apply to have the town designated as a green community later this year.

They can do so if they complete two of the five steps to be considered by the Oct. 30 application deadline.

Committee members were on hand during Wednesday night's selectmen's meeting to ask for initial support from the board in pursuing the designation.

The town already has as-of-right siting for solar projects, expedited permitting for those projects, and the stretch code has been adopted, according to resident Alan Pease.

In order to be considered a green community, the town must implement a fuel-efficiency vehicle policy and commit to reducing the town's energy consumption in all municipal buildings by 20 percent in five years.

Under the state's guidelines for fuel-efficient vehicles, a community must commit to buying more fuel-efficient cars when vehicles are ready to be replaced. Certain vehicles, including police cruisers, firetrucks and other heavy equipment (including DPW trucks) are exempt because finding fuel-efficient models is difficult.

In Ashby, no town official drives a vehicle that is not exempt by state law so a normal fuel-efficiency bylaw would not be feasible for the town.

Instead, Pease said, the town can adopt a bylaw that would encourage town employees to carpool to work, to put bike racks in certain places and other options.

The Energy Committee is also leaning toward choosing Fiscal 2013, which ended June 30, as its baseline year to begin mapping out a plan to reduce the town's energy consumption by 20 percent.

Once that's done, Pease said, the committee will map out a number of ways that can be achieved throughout town. That list will be submitted with the town's application to the state in the fall.

When Ashby becomes designated as a green community, the town is eligible for approximately $130,000 in grant funding to put toward energy-efficient projects for which there is now no funding.

No action was taken by the board Wednesday, and Pease said he will get final documents to the board in the next week so it can review it prior to its next meeting.

"I wanted to at least get this introduced to you tonight. Hopefully it's something you can get through fairly easily," he said.

The board is expected to vote on it at its next meeting in two weeks.

Selectmen Chairman Janet Flinkstrom said she is in support of having the town be designated as a green community.

"Any way we can save the town money and put it in other places that are already in dire need is good," she said.

Follow Katina Caraganis on Twitter @kcaraganis.