Past Advocacy Initiatives

An important part of Green Newton’s mission is to advocate with local, state, and national governmental leaders to create and support legislation that protects the environment. We collaborate with other environmental groups, work with Newton Councilors and the Mayor to shape regulations and legislation, and encourage and provide information to individuals and businesses to make their voices heard about protecting the health and safety of the environment.

  • Northland Development Project Referendum 2019: PASSED – GN supported the design and construction of the Newton Northland Development project. With developer concession to incorporating many features in line with GN Green Building Principles, GN was confident it would be a sustainable model for Passive House construction in Newton. Newton will be getting the 800-unit, 1.4-million-square-foot development on Needham Street after residents voted on March 3,2020 — 18,565 to 13,449 to approve the mixed-use project. Environmental benefits of the project include:
    • Energy Efficiency: Northland will be the most energy efficient multi-use project in MA. It will set a very visible example for other MA builders and cities.
    • No Natural Gas will be used to heat the buildings.
    • Transportation: Northland has made extraordinary, legally-binding commitments to reduce single-occupancy vehicle use.
    • Location: With thousands of people moving to Greater Boston, it’s better to house them on a small land footprint, close to their jobs. Northland will slow the suburban sprawl that is clogging our region with cars.
  • 18 additional solar panel installations in Newton 2019: APPROVED –  GN advocated for and celebrated the Newton City Council’s approval of additional solar panels on city buildings, which will increase solar to 41% of municipal electricity. More solar panels on public sites will green municipal electricity by 20% more and save $500K+. Buildings to host solar panels on the roof are: Ed Center, Fire Station headquarters, Zervas, Angier, Cabot, Carr, Williams, and F.A. Day.  Parking lots to host solar canopies: Ed Center, Memorial Spaulding, Mason Rice, Oak Hill, Brown, Newton North (Lowell Ave and Walnut Street), Pleasant Street lot in Newton Centre, and the Newton Free Library.
  • Expanded Newton Plastic Bag Reduction Ordinance 2019: PASSED – GN supported the original Plastic Bag Reduction Ordinance that was passed in 2015 and supported its expansion in 2019 which requires that all Newton retail establishments and restaurants distribute only recyclable paper bags or reusable checkout bags at point of purchase. Merchants are required to collect a ten-cent fee on paper bags distributed at the point of check out.  Merchants retain the ten-cent fee, but the bag charge is subject to Mass sales tax. Most plastic bags are banned. Some exceptions exist.
  • Polystyrene Ordinance  2019: PASSED – GN supported the proposed ordinance to ban the sale and use of foam polystyrene disposable food containers and packing materials by retail and food establishments in the City of Newton.  Also included in the ordinance that began in January 2020 was a ban on the dispensing of disposable plastic stirrers.
  • Newton Power Choice 2018: ADOPTED  – Green Newton joined a coalition of environmental organization in support of the municipal aggregation contract for the City of Newton, recommending that the mayor aim for a default rate that includes 40% Class 1 New England renewables mix. The mayor negotiated a default rate of 60% with an opt up option of 100% Class 1 New England renewables mix, 46% above the state-mandated 14% for 2019. Green Newton has run a campaign to encourage residents to switch to the higher Newton Power Choice 100% Green option.
  • Leaf Blower Restriction 2017: PASSED – GN successfully advocated for the passage of a revised Leaf Blower Ordinance by the Newton City Council that bans all gas-powered leaf blowers from Memorial Day through Labor Day, and during that period, only one electric or battery-powered leaf blower per lot is allowed. The Newton City Council also affirmed a 2009 Leaf Blower Ordinance that prohibits all leaf blower operation at sound levels of 65 decibels or more during the other times of the year.  All leaf blowers must have a manufacturer’s label documenting the db level of the machine. Only those gas, electric or battery-powered leaf blowers labeled at or below 65 decibels are allowed from Labor Day to the day before Memorial Day.
  • Newton Plastic Bag Reduction Ordinance 2015: PASSED – GN advocated the passing of a ban on single use plastic bags in grocery stores and large retailers in the City of Newton. The purpose of the ordinance is to protect the environment and reduce trash while encouraging the use of reusable bags. Implemented in July 2015, the ban targets large supermarkets and retailers with stores of at least 3,500 square feet, or with two or more locations in the city, and bags that are given out at the point of sale only. It does not include plastic bags used to carry produce or other items to the point of sale, or dry-cleaning and newspaper bags. In addition, paper bags given out must be 100 percent recyclable, and made with at least 40 percent “post-consumer recycled content.”