Author Archives: quincycan

Shooting for net-zero for the new Squantum Elementary School

When QCAN members heard that the City of Quincy was embarking on a feasibility study for the new Squantum Elementary School, many of us emailed and called the city councilors to encourage early adoption of design features necessary to achieve net-zero energy goals for the new school. QCAN stressed in our correspondence that it is not too early to set energy goals, and it’s NOT too early to decide to make it a net-zero energy building, as there are other communities already building net-zero schools

Nina Liang responded that “the Massachusetts School Building Authority offers a 1.5-2 percent incentive for money spent towards energy efficiency in the context of designing towards high performance certification. They offer NE-CHPS, as well as LEED, as high performance pathways in place of MA-CHPS. Also, MassSave is an initiative sponsored by Massachusetts’ gas and electric utilities which offers incentives and services to help schools manage energy costs and create a more comfortable environment. Additionally, DSIRE maintains a comprehensive database of incentives for Massachusetts, many of which can be applied to schools.”

Mayor Koch thought it was too early to include net-zero requirements in the feasibility study; City Councilors Liang, Mahoney, Andronico, and DiBona brought up that they wanted net-zero put in the feasibility study due to pressure from QCAN. This issue got moved to the Finance Committee. There is an open bid for the Owner’s Project Manager, who will be hired prior to the design team being hired. QCAN will continue to monitor this as it moves through the selection process and a consultant is selected.

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QCAN and partners speak with Rep. Tackey Chan

In June, many of us were anxiously waiting for the Massachusetts Senate and House to come to an agreement on the state’s Climate Bill. The clock was ticking and time was running out. Things were stalling because the House and Senate couldn’t agree, so a conference committee was called to help the process along. The House Speaker and Senate President each chose three members to serve on the committee to hash out the details and come up with compromises. And our very own Quincy Representative Tackey Chan was on this committee.

Normally, QCAN sticks to very local issues, letting the bigger climate groups tackle statewide issues. However, Mothers Out Front approached QCAN about getting a meeting with Rep. Chan, knowing he would be more likely to listen to his constituents. So we reached out to Rep. Chan and organized a meeting on June 24 between him, QCAN, and other statewide climate groups: Mothers Out Front, 350 Mass Action, Massachusetts Climate Action Network, the Massachusetts Sierra Club, and Climate XChange.

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High school clothing swap

QYouth Climate Movement, QCAN’s youth chapter, organized a clothing swap at Quincy High School on May 15. The event was a lot of fun and provided gently used clothing to teens who can use it, diverted many pounds of waste from Quincy’s trash stream, and helped spread the message that fast fashion is bad for the planet. (Everyone loves a new sweater, but the fashion industry is responsible for up to 10% of global carbon emissions — so trading outfits to extend the wearable lifespan of those garments can help reduce that fashion footprint.)

Thank you to the participants, volunteers, and QYouth members that made this event a huge success! QYouth meets at the Thomas Crane Main Library at 3:30pm on the third Thursday of each month. More info is available on their Instagram.

How a heat pump can decarbonize your home

If your home is heated by natural gas or oil (like most in Quincy), there’s no getting around it: You’re burning a lot of carbon each winter. And probably a lot of money, too: The price of gas and oil heat is expected to jump 30% or more this winter. But a heat pump can efficiently heat your home — even on the coldest New England winter day — without burning fossil fuels. 

What is a heat pump? It’s essentially an air conditioner that can also run in reverse. In summer, like an air conditioner or refrigerator, it removes heat from your home. And in winter, as long as there is some heat energy in the air — and there’s always some, until we reach absolute zero, a.k.a. negative 273º Celsius — the outdoor condenser pulls whatever heat it can find out of the atmosphere and uses a special refrigerant to send that warmth inside to the blower unit.  

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Climate risk and climate preparedness in Quincy

Global warming is increasingly contributing to the frequency and intensity of weather events, resulting in significant consequences for the U.S. Rising seas and rain events that can last for days are causing flood events threatening quality of life. Roads are washed away and infrastructure, utilities, and emergency services are all at risk from these worsening weather events. Reliable infrastructure is essential to the economic prosperity, sustainability, and security of communities across the United States.

Last month the First Street Foundation released its third national risk assessment, Infrastructure on the Brink, in which flood risk vulnerability is measured by city and county. In-depth information for Massachusetts’ at-risk neighborhoods by zip code, city, and county can be found at

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The state of plastic bags in Quincy

In March 2020, in the name of health and safety, my family temporarily retired our reusable grocery bags. Quincy had passed a plastic bag ban three months prior, but then we were back to single-use plastic. In August of 2020, after the CDC confirmed that surface transmission of COVID was not a threat, the state brought back local bans on single-use plastic bags and allowed for reusable plastic bags again.

We were ready, reusable bags in hand. We were ready to go back to focusing on saving the planet, reducing our carbon footprint, reducing our reliance on plastic. And we hoped that our local supermarkets, big box stores, and pharmacies would start again to encourage reusable bags. We hoped we wouldn’t have to see the flimsy plastic bags of the “before times.” Yet that hasn’t been entirely the case.

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Good news for bicycling in Quincy

Some of the roads in Quincy look different lately – they are decked out with green paint and green posts. What’s going on? The answer is that Quincy streets are slowly becoming more complete. A “Complete Street” is one that provides safe and accessible options for all travel modes – foot, bicycle, public transit, and vehicles – to people of all ages and abilities. If a street has bike lanes like the ones newly installed in Quincy, biking is the fun choice to get where you’re going – as well as the environmentally friendly one! 

In 2018 Quincy adopted a new Complete Streets policy, and in 2019 the Commonwealth awarded Quincy over $300,000 of Complete Streets Grant Funding. The locations redesigned with that funding include:

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