Sustainable Wellesley Team WINS Wellesley Spelling Bee + Shares Lots Of Buzz About Climate Action You Can Do
Sustainable Wellesley’s team buzzed to victory last Wednesday at the Wellesley Education Fund’s annual spelling bee, a third win for town sustainability promoters over four years of entering teams, and just days before Town Meeting votes on Zoning Bylaw amendments under Article 38 to enhance green design and technology use in our buildings.
The winning word “ichnolite,” or fossil footprint, and pentultimate word, “soliterraneous,” relating to the earth and sun, formed a fitting finale, given team members Chris Crowley, Elizabeth May and Katie Smith Milway’s desire to raise awareness for reducing the town’s reliance on fossil fuels and increase its use of green energy.
May’s family went solar in 2013 when the town partnered with Astrum Solar to promote and subsidize solar panel use. “At first I was unsure about solar for my house because our roof gets east-west exposure, but even so, the system was forecasted to pay for itself in under seven years, and the panels had 20-year warranties,” said May, who calls it the best house-related decision she’s made, and has hosted and volunteered at neighborhood open houses for Sustainable Wellesley to share her experience.
Today May’s system has paid for itself, more than halving annual electric costs. “My meter actually goes backward in peak summer months,” said May, “And the sale of my annual renewalable energy credits provides a nice income.”
Solar power was also Crowley’s entrée into Sustainable Wellesley. He attended information sessions and an open house with residents who, like May, had installed solar panels, which made it easy to evaluate the option. “I ended up installing an array about five years ago which finished paying back this year,” said Crowley. “Going forward, it’s just free energy that keeps my electricity bill at zero and the environment cleaner.”
Milway helped promote Wellesley Municipal Light Plant’s solar rebate program for Sustainable Wellesley in a 2018 article for the Wellesley Townsman, the year Wellesley was designated a "SolSmart Silver" community for making it faster, easier, and more affordable for homes and businesses to go solar. She also participated on the Wellesley Green Team in WEF’s 2007 and 2008 spelling bees, whose back-to-back wins promoted green design for the new Wellesley High School, where solar arrays now light 27 classrooms; rainwater catchment provisions lavatories, and geothermal wells heat and cool the administrative wing.
Emissions from buildings make up 63.3% of Wellesley’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
“Greening our buildings is our biggest opportunity to reduce our carbon footprint,” said Milway, “Which is why I am urging all Town Meeting representatives in my precinct to vote for the three remaining motions under Article 38 at Town Meeting. These motions make it easier for homeowners to install heat pumps, encourage sustainable building and land use practices throughout town, and, ultimately, spell a cleaner, safer, brighter future for our children,” Milway said.