Sustainability Accomplishments (a list)

Click here if you would like to see the accomplishments organized by categories instead.



Partnered with National Grid to replace all existing incandescent and mercury streetlights with improved efficiency high pressure sodium lamps.



Curb-side recycling (starting November 29, 1993) and pay-as-you-throw trash program reduced total annual waste stream by approximately 40%. Prior to that, the city had 7 recycling drop-off sites.


Traffic Lights

The Worcester’s 1,400 red traffic lights were converted from inefficient incandescent bulbs to high efficiency, long-life LEDs (light emitting diodes) in 1997. Since then, most associated green and amber traffic lights have been replaced with LEDs as well.


Cities for Climate Protection Campaign

City Council adopted a resolution to join the Cities for Climate Protection Campaign, an initiative of ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability. Through this resolution, the Council pledged to take a leadership role in promoting public awareness about the causes and impacts of climate change, while also undertaking a program to reduce both greenhouse gases and air pollution in the city.


Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory

Worcester’s first greenhouse gas emissions inventory (municipal and community) was completed. Building energy, vehicle transportation, and waste were identified as primary sources of emissions (Section 2.1 of the 2007 Climate Action Plan).


Clean Renewable Municipal Electricity

City Council adopted a resolution that set a goal of purchasing 20% of electricity for municipal uses from clean, renewable sources by 2010, and encouraged residents and businesses to choose the clean energy option on their own energy bills.

Click here to learn more about the City's accomplishments in the renewable energy field.


U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement

Worcester Mayor Timothy P. Murray signed the U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement,  which committed the City to strive to meet or beat the Kyoto Protocol targets (7% below 1990 levels by 2012). The Agreement was re-affirmed in 2009 by Mayor Joe O'Brien.


Climate Action Plan

Worcester developed a Climate Action Plan with the help of a consultant and the Energy Task Force, appointed by the City Manager.

The Plan, adopted by City Council on August 28, 2007, established greenhouse gas emission reduction targets and recommended actions to reduce City's emissions and energy use.


Large Wind Ordinance

The City adopted a Large Wind Energy Conversion Facilities Ordinance, which enabled installation of wind energy turbines in Worcester by Special Permit with certain provisions for height, buffers from abutting uses, and noise regulations.

These new regulations enabled a large wind turbine at the Holy Name Central Catholic Junior-Senior High School


High Efficiency Lighting Retrofits

The City completed fluorescent and metal halide lighting retrofit of select City-owned buildings and four public parking garages through a National Grid incentive program.


Single-stream Recycling in Schools

Worcester Public Schools implemented single-stream recycling (i.e. no sorting required) at all school facilities.


Single-stream Recycling for Residents

Worcester implemented single-stream recycling (i.e. no sorting required) for curbside residential customers (1-6 dwellings).

2009 - 2016

Clean Renewable Municipal Electricity

Consistent with its commitment, since 2009, the City has purchased Renewable Energy Certificates (i.e. green attributes of electricity sourced from renewable sources) applying them towards municipal electricity. From 2014 to 2016, the City exceeded its 20% goal by purchasing enough RECs to cover 22% of the municipal electrical consumption!


New Staff

The City hired an Energy Efficiency & Conservation Program Manager to implement the Climate Action Plan initiatives, to oversee the City’s comprehensive building energy audit, and to administer the Energy Savings Performance Contract.


Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant

Worcester was awarded $1.7 million from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) Program, funded by a 2009 federal ARRA grant. The grant funded installation of a solar array at Worcester Technical High School, a City Hall building energy efficiency project, a small businesses sustainability audit program, and rebates for energy efficiency upgrades to residential income eligible property owners in targeted areas.


Small Wind Ordinance

The City amended its Wind Energy Conversion Facilities Ordinance by adding allowances for small-scale wind turbines (maximum rotor diameter 20-ft, maximum height 95 ft).


Energy Savings Performance Contract (ESPC)

  • 2009 - Completed an Investment Grade Audit (IGA).
  • 2011 – 2016 - Executed $26.6M energy savings performance contract (ESPC) and implemented energy efficiency measures in 92 municipal facilities.
  • 2013-2017 – Installed 8 solar projects on school buildings, completed a landfill solar farm project, and converted all of the streetlights to LEDs ($55M project).


Green Community Designation

Worcester was designated a Green Community by the Massachusetts DOER's Green Communities Program and consequently awarded an $852,000 Green Community Designation Grant.


Utility Energy Tracker for Municipal Facilities

MassEnergyInsight (MEI) website was developed by a Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources contract. The City set up its accounts allowing for utility energy use tracking (for all types of fuels) in all municipal facilities over a period of time, tracking improvements in energy efficiency from the baseline, improving energy and cost monitoring, and allowing for faster identification of areas for improvement.


Stretch Code

Worcester became the 28th municipality in Massachusetts to adopt the new energy-saving building “Stretch Code,” a pre-requisite to Green Community designation by the state. This affected both new construction and major renovations. During fiscal years 2012 – 2014, 137 buildings (mostly residential new construction) successfully met the new building code.


Green2Growth Summit

The City co-hosted with National Grid a "Green Today – Grow Tomorrow" Worcester Energy Summit focused on Sustainability.


Worcester Energy Program

The City launched the Worcester Energy program with the following goals:

  1. To lead by example and improve the energy efficiency and increase renewable energy production of municipal operations;
  2. To communicate the City's efforts related to energy and sustainability; and
  3. To provide local relevant information in order to encourage residents, businesses and institutions throughout the city to save energy and reduce carbon footprint.

As of 2015, through this program, the City administered the EECBG Grant (see above), a Small Business Sustainability Pilot, and a Residential Rebate Pilot.


Small Business  Sustainability Pilot

The City completed 25 detailed small business energy assessments in cooperation with GDS Associates, Prism Energy, and National Grid and with assistance from Federal EECBG funds. Click here for the Final Report summarizing lessons learned and challenges faced by Worcester’s small businesses in implementing recommended sustainability assessment actions.


Better Buildings Challenge Partner

Worcester became a U.S. Department of Energy Better Buildings Challenge Partner by publically pledging to reduce municipal energy use 20% by 2020, and being nationally recognized for the City’s energy reduction successes.


EPA's Green Power Partnership

Worcester joined the EPA's Green Power Partnership and was designated a Green Power Partner as a result of its commitment to purchase green electricity above 20% of its municipal electrical usage. In April 2015, EPA included Worcester in a Top 30 Local Government list, which is comprised of the largest green power users among local government partners within the Partnership.


Organizational Capacity Growth

The City formed a new Energy and Asset Management Division that focuses on sound and responsible building and energy management practices and implementation of municipal sustainability initiatives.

Additionally, a new position of Sustainability Project Manager was created to manage the Worcester Energy program, maintain Green Community designation and manage associated grant/s, manage energy use database, oversee implementation of the Climate Action Plan, develop and present educational information to the public, and work on related long-term planning activities.


First Municipal Solar Installations

The City installed solar arrays at four sites: Worcester North High School, Sullivan Middle School, Worcester Technical High School, and the City’s water filtration plant in Holden. These installations total 597 kW-DC in capacity.


Energy Savings Performance Contract (ESPC) Amendments

The ESPC project scope of work was increased to include eleven solar installation projects and retrofit (conversion to LED) of municipal street lights and the lights in four municipal parking garages raising the total investment to $80 million. As a result, the guaranteed savings to the City have increased to $1.7 million per year for 20 years.


Residential Rebate Pilot

A Residential Rebate Pilot was launched in 2014 to encourage energy efficiency improvements by providing financial incentives to Worcester homeowners. The project funded 167 energy efficiency projects which included 207 dwelling units for 1-4 family homes. Energy performance scoring was another educational aspect of the Pilot.


33% Green Municipal Electricity

As of 2014, approximately 33% of the City's municipal electricity use came from renewable energy. Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) purchased by the City account for 22%, with an additional 11% certified by the Renewable Portfolio Standard (Class I and II) - the state-mandated green portion of electricity supplied to Massachusetts that year.


Solar Net Metering Credit Agreements

Between 2014 and 2016, the City signed three 20-year net-metering agreements to purchase 12.5 mega-watt-hours of electricity (via net-metering credits on electric bills) from solar farms in Brimfield, Palmer and Rutland. These agreements are saving the City approximately $710,000 a year in electricity costs while supporting local solar energy projects!


Energy Efficiency Work Completed and Accepted

The city accepted all energy efficiency work in municipal buildings under Phase I of the ESPC Project, with calculated savings of $1.7M for 2016 exceeding guaranteed savings of $1.3M.


Municipal Solar Farm

In June, the city completed construction and turned the switch on municipal solar farm on the former Greenwood Street Landfill. It is the largest municipal solar array in New England (8.1 MW-DC), is an appropriate reuse of a large municipal property and has an anticipated 6-year payback on the investment!


Municipal Electrical Aggregation

On June 20, 2017, the City Council authorized the commencement of Worcester Community Choice Aggregation with the goals of cost stability, modest reductions in electrical costs, providing an option for green electricity for customers, and providing modest additional funding for municipal sustainability staff and programs. The aggregation is expected to commence by the end of 2018.


New energy efficient school - Nelson Place Elementary

By September, the city completed construction of the new Nelson Place Elementary School – a highly energy efficient building with a 345 kW-DC solar system on its roof.


Four Municipal Garages Completed LED Lighting Upgrades

  • City Hall Garage (455 Main Street)
  • Federal Plaza Garage (564 Main Street)
  • Thomas Street Garage (aka Major Taylor Municipal Garage) (93 Thomas Drive)
  • Union Station Garage (205 Franklin Street)


Retrofit of 13,419 Municipal Lights

In December, the city completed installation of the LED Streetlight Project, which is expected to save ~$910,000 and over 6,000,000 kWhs a year in electricity – a reduction of 60%!


Worcester City Hall's Designation as a Green and Healthy Building

 In June 2018, Worcester City Hall earned a Green Clean Institute’s (GCI) certification as a Green and Healthy Building. The general goals of a green cleaning program in a building is to reduce exposure of building occupants and maintenance personnel to potentially hazardous chemical, biological and particle contaminants, which adversely impact air quality, health, and the environment.