MAPC Launches New How-To Guide to Help Cities and Towns Achieve Climate Goals

MAPC Launches New How-To Guide to Help Cities and Towns Achieve Climate Goals

Net Zero Playbook’ gives municipalities tools, training and inspiration to jumpstart local efforts at reducing carbon emissions from building & mobility sectors, strengthening climate-smart zoning, & increasing renewable energy

For Immediate Release: November 18, 2021

BOSTON – Culminating two years of research and planning, stakeholder engagement and on-the-ground trials in multiple communities, the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) in Boston today launched its Municipal Net Zero Playbook, providing cities and towns with actionable strategies and resources to efficiently and equitably achieve their climate goals.

The largest of the state’s 13 regional planning agencies, MAPC serves 101 Greater Boston cities and towns. Three of those – Arlington, Melrose, and Natick – served as incubators over the last two years to inform the development of the Playbook and test best practices in their local net zero action planning processes with MAPC. Now, the tool is broadly available for any city or town looking to take action and achieve their climate goals.

“Drawing on over ten years of experience helping municipalities tackle clean energy and climate challenges, MAPC has compiled an interdisciplinary tool packed with best practices and actions communities can use as they develop and implement plans to accelerate toward net zero carbon emissions,” said MAPC Director of Clean Energy Cammy Peterson. “We’re confident the Playbook’s resources will empower municipal planners, energy and sustainability staff, and local volunteers to deploy net zero actions in their communities and advocate for critical policy changes at the local and state level.”

“The Baker-Polito Administration has established nation-leading climate goals, including an ambitious target of Net Zero emissions in 2050, and engaged in a comprehensive, science-based 2050 Decarbonization Roadmap to assess the pathways and strategies to decarbonize our economy while ensuring a just, equitable, and affordable transition for residents across the Commonwealth,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “Strong partnerships with our municipal partners are critical to our long-term success, and MAPC’s Municipal Net Zero Playbook serves as a great example of the many tools that are available to assist communities as they work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address the impacts of climate change.”

“In order to meet Massachusetts’ ambitious net zero emissions requirements, we will need an all hands on deck approach, where municipal partners will continue to play a critical role in the Commonwealth achieving its goals,” said Department of Energy Resources Commissioner Patrick Woodcock. “Importantly, the Municipal Net Zero Playbook from MAPC will act as a vital resource in providing assistance to cities and towns across the Commonwealth to create action plans that not only reduce greenhouse emissions from buildings and transportation, but will aid in the transitioning away from the reliance of fossil fuels.”

“We are excited to support the launch of MAPC’s Net Zero Playbook and its clean energy work across our state,” said Mariella Puerto, Director of Climate for the Barr Foundation. “With this resource, Massachusetts’ communities will be able to accelerate their leadership on equity centered climate action. Cities and towns can utilize this playbook to turn their climate goals into tangible steps that generate equitable outcomes for their communities."

Each of the Playbook’s four chapters contains strategies that can serve as guideposts for customizing a community’s net zero action plan at the local level. The Playbook provides guiding frameworks for municipalities to initiate and conduct net zero planning, centering equity at each stage of the process, from community engagement and plan development to strategy prioritization.

Arlington, Melrose, and Natick piloted several strategies:

  • Melrose took a page from the Zero Emissions Mobility chapter by successfully installing ten utility pole mounted electric vehicle charging stations in partnership with its electric utility, National Grid.
  • Arlington is deploying municipal electrification actions from the Net Zero Buildings chapter; the town recently issued a Request for Proposals for an Electrification and Air Quality Master Plan for its schools.
  • Natick, with neighboring communities Ashland and Holliston, is showcasing outreach strategies from the Clean Energy Supply and Net Zero Buildings chapters, launching the MetroWest Solar + Clean Heat Challenge to increase adoption of residential electrification and renewables.
  • Demonstrating the importance of the Climate Smart Zoning and Permitting chapter, Melrose and Natick, as early leaders in the U.S. Department of Energy’s SolSmart program, promote adoption of solar through streamlined zoning and permitting practices that reduce soft costs.

MAPC’s Framework for Action outlines the essential components for a net zero planning process to help municipalities not only develop a local plan but also turn it into action. The Framework for Equity supports municipalities at each stage of the process to implement equity in their net zero plans, ensuring that plans assess and acknowledge existing inequities and work to uplift and provide direct benefits to underserved communities. MAPC encourages communities to leverage the transition to a net zero future as an important opportunity to address inequities and reshape communities for the better.

MAPC’s development of the Playbook was supported by a planning assistance grant from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, with matching funding from City of Melrose, Town of Arlington, Town of Natick, MAPC funding, and support from the Barr Foundation.

For more information on the Playbook, MAPC will host an overview webinar on Monday, Nov. 22, 2021 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Registration is available at

Press Contact

Amanda Linehan
Communications Director