Sustainable Arlington

An Envision Arlington committee & a Mass. Climate Action Network (MCAN) chapter

About Sustainable Arlington

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Sustainable Arlington


Sustainable Arlington acts on a local level to promote climate stabilization and other important environmental goals. 

Sustainable Arlington holds monthly meetings and we invite you to attend.  Please visit our events calendar on the main web page to find out when the next meeting is and where it will be held. The calendar is actively managed and also lists other sustainability and environmental events in Arlington and nearby communities. 

Activities in Town:

Since its founding in 1998, Sustainable Arlington has held public events to bring attention to climate issues for residents, businesses and Town departments.  Look for us at Town Day in September. We also collaborate with other local environmental groups and with the Town of Arlington.

  • HeatSmart 2019-- This highly successful program, a collaboration between the towns of Arlington and Winchester, was supported by a number of volunteer groups including Sustainable Arlington. Over 250 air source heat pump systems were installed, along with several ground source heat pumps and solar hot water systems.  

  • Arlington EcoFest -- annual free public event held at Arlington Town Hall in the March. Sustainable Arlington has been one of the event organizers since 2011.  Read about Arlington EcoFest 2023 here.

  • Solarize Arlington 2012  -- 157 signed contracts for residential solar pv installations in town

  • Arlington became a Massachusetts Green Community, 2010, with support from Sustainable Arlington



A-Team - Energy Smackdown

Arlington team co-captain Laurel Kayne takes the team torch at the Energy Smackdown launch event at the McGlynn Middle School in Medford on May 4. For a report on the kick-off event, see this article from the Arlington Advocate.




Town Day 2007 image

Dick Rubinstein and Eric Kurtz, wearing CFL hats that they designed and created. They were handing out free CFLs to Town Day attendees who were willing to take the lightbulb pledge - that is to replace an incandescent bulb with a CFL.





1993-2000-Arlington Selectmen voted to join the Cities for Climate Protection

2006-The Arlington Sustainable Action Plan (ASAP) was presented to Town Meeting


Read about the Arlington Sustainable Action Plan (ASAP) at the Massachusetts Climate Action Network (MCAN).

For a summary of the ASAP, CLICK HERE

ASAP is Arlington’s Sustainability Action Plan.  One of its chief aims is to reduce our contribution to global warming, which is now hitting believers and skeptics alike with more intens e heat waves and storms, the spread of diseases like West Nile virus to new areas, and the like.

In May 2000 the Arlington Selectmen voted to join the Cities for Climate Protection (CCP) Campaign, which calls for the development of such a plan by each participating town,  This task was undertaken by Sustainable Arlington with the help of some interns from Tufts University.  Part I of the plan was presented to the Board of Selectmen in June 2006.  Now comes the hard part:  figuring out “how to” and then implementing it.

The plan calls for reducing Arlington’s emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG), principally carbon dioxide, to 6% below  1997 levels by 2010 and 12% below by 2015.  Town government can make little direct contribution to this goal:  calculations made in 2000 indicated that its share of the GHG emitted in Arlington was only a little above 5% (e.g. from Town vehicles and heating/cooling Town offices and schools).  The lion’s share comes from residents and businesses.  The Town’s role will be mainly leadership and education.

The plan so far has four sections:  (1)  Energy efficiency;  (2) Energy Sourcing (finding alternative forms of energy, like wind and solar, that produce less or no GHG); (3) Transportation, and (4) Social Marketing (informing people and motivating them to take action).  Sections on other aspects of sustainability, such as conserving water and reducing the use of toxics, are on the agenda for the future.


What the Town is Doing:

In the last few years, while the ASAP was being developed, Sustainable Arlington has suggested several measures to save energy and GHG, and the Town has implemented the following, saving substantial money in the process:


  • Replacing the lights in the Robbins Library Reading Room with compact fluorescents (CFL).

  •  Replacing traffic lights with LEDs.

  • Replacing the aging mercury-vapor streetlights with high-pressure sodium lights.

  •  Town Meeting passed a bylaw requiring new Town vehicles to be the most energy efficient model suitable for a given purpose. Board of Health inspectors now make their rounds around town in a hybrid car that gets 48 mpg.

  •  Town Meeting also passed a bylaw making the “silver” level of national energy efficiency standards known as LEED the goal for new municipal buildings such as schools.

Other possibilities now being investigated include installing photovoltaic (solar energy) panels or small wind turbines to supply the energy needs of some of the schools.

Members of the Board of Selectmen and of  Sustainable Arlington are now working on sorting the recommendations in the ASAP into goals for the short, medium, and long term and prioritizing them.

A public forum is being planned for sometime in the fall to present the ASAP in more detail and get public input and encourage residents to take part in implementing it.

What You Can Do

Fortunately, reducing GHG involves something that is attractive to Town government and individuals alike:  it means saving energy, which usually means saving money, either quickly or in the long run.  Getting this idea into the forefront of people’s thinking is the challenge.  Utility companies are helping by offering energy audits and rebates for energy-saving measures.


  • THINK.  Energy-wasting habits can be replaced with energy- and money-saving habits.

  • Keep the 3 Rs in mind:  Reduce, Re-use, Recycle.  Use only the amount necessary to get the job done, from cleaning agents to watering your lawn.  Buy reusables, or re-use disposables whenever possible.  In both cases you save on the energy used in making and transporting the stuff and dealing with the waste or runoff generated, which means saving money including taxes.  Also, it takes less energy to make things like paper and glass from recycled materials than from fresh raw materials, so please recycle and buy recycled.

  • Be thrifty with the use of cars.  Combine errands.  When feasible, walk or bike (healthy exercise!), carpool, use public transportation.  If your car gets low mileage, make your next one more fuel-efficient.  Do the arithmetic: cost of gas, tolls, and parking for a month of commuting vs. the cost of a monthly MBTA pass.

  • Insulate your home.  Heat and cool it to a reasonable degree so that you don’t need long sleeves in summer or short sleeves in winter. Use energy-efficient appliances and lighting.  Use a push mower (more healthy exercise) instead of a power mower.

  • Watch the Arlington Advocate and other publications you read, and/or surf the Web, for any energy-saving tips.  E.g., see the “Home Eco Checklist” on

  • Clip or note some tips that you can work into your lifestyle and post them on your refrigerator as a reminder to start using them.  And if you come up with a bright idea, please share it via a letter to the Advocate.   An individual action may be only a drop in the bucket, but many drops will fill the bucket.

 Watch out for the announcement of the coming public forum on the ASAP.  Take part if you can or read about the results in the Advocate.


Join Our Google Group

Sustainable Arlington uses a Google Group to conduct its discussions and facilitate communications within the SA community.  To join our Google Group please click here!