Ironworker Kyle Kappotis, left, guides steel beam into place during a “topping off” ceremony for the new Concord Middle School, December 8, 2023. The beam bears the signatures of Concord students, teachers, community members and ironworkers. Ken McGagh for The Concord Bridge

Concord, getting greener, is named to DOER pilot program 

By Anne O’Connor
January 3, 2024

In the battle to reduce dependency on fossil fuels, Concord is paving the way. 

The town is one of nine communities named by the state Department of Energy Resources to participate in the Municipal Fossil Free Building Construction and Renovation Demonstration Project.  

“We’re definitely excited,” said Eric Simms, Concord’s sustainability director.  

The project will go into effect at the end of March. Acceptance letters went out December 22, 2023. 

The state FFF pilot program applies to all new construction and major renovations of 50% of floor area or more, requiring developers to build high-efficiency structures.  

The standards apply to both commercial and residential buildings. However, in Concord, affordable housing projects are exempt under the current bylaw. Renovations are not included.  

The state strongly recommended that the town amend the bylaw to include major renovations and affordable housing projects, Simms said. The changes will bring the town in line with the other pilot communities, creating continuity and consistency. 

An appeals and waiver process will be in place.  

The Select Board voted in favor of sponsoring a draft article with these changes for the 2024 Town Meeting, Simms said. 

The proposed NOVO Riverside Commons development for Baker Avenue, which includes affordable housing, is not intended to use any fossil fuels. 

Concord’s progress has been made step by step. In 2021, Town Meeting passed a bylaw regulating fossil fuel infrastructure in buildings and submitted a Home Rule Petition for the authority to adopt and enforce fossil fuel free infrastructure. 

With this in place, and with having 10% of its housing units designated affordable, Concord applied for the pilot program. 

During the process, Concord continued to prioritize going green. Town Meeting passed stricter building codes that went into effect January 1, Simms said.  

One spot remains in the state FFF pilot program. The tenth community has not been announced, but it will not be Boston. Mayor Michelle Wu announced in November that the city will not apply, saying the pilot program was not intended for a complex city like Boston.