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Article Published June 6, 2018
Essex Committee Shifts from Energy Savings to Overall Sustainability
Amanda Preble, Staff Writer

The Essex Board of Selectmen voted earlier this month to replace the Essex Citizens for Clean Energy (ECCE) committee with a newly named Sustainable Essex Committee (SEC) by joining the statewide initiative Sustainable CT. The change is intended to allow Essex to tackle a much broader view of sustainability in Essex.

Sustainable CT is a statewide initiative that aims to support environmental resilience in Connecticut’s cities and towns. The initiative includes nine categories in which towns can improve in order to earn points toward becoming certified as a sustainable municipality.

“When I listened to the presentation from the Sustainable CT people, I said boy, this is a little bit of a broader view than just clean energy and energy efficiency. It’s a broader view of sustainability,” said Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman.

According to Sustainable CT’ website, the nine categories include: thriving local economies, well-stewarded land and natural resources, vibrant and creative cultural ecosystems, dynamic and resilient planning, clean and diverse transportation systems and choices, efficient physical infrastructure and operations, strategic and inclusive public services, healthy housing options, and inclusive and equitable community impacts.

For the past 15 years, the ECCE had focused on reducing energy consumption and the carbon footprint of Essex residents and municipal buildings, Needleman was pleased to hear of this opportunity to take that one step further. He said the transition from ECCE to SEC should be smooth.

“It’s the same group of people, but with a slightly bigger portfolio,” Needleman said. “The people are very committed and they will do a great job of it.”

Joining this initiative comes at no cost, but will require volunteers from the community to complete actions around town that will help to fill the initiatives requirement categories. When the town becomes certified through points earned by improving these nine categories, the town becomes eligible for grants to help complete further improvements to the town’s sustainability.

Needleman said following the state program to a “T” isn’t his main goal.

“I’m less about committing to their plan and more about maintaining an attitude of improving sustainability,” said Needleman.

For more information, call Stacy Abbott of the Sustainable Essex Committee at 860-227-7753.