Decarbonizing Communities & Campuses

Event Date




Decarbonization has become a priority across every sector, creating new challenges—and also many opportunities. From planning to implementation to stakeholder engagement, there are moving parts that must align for the successful achievement of sustainability goals. And though the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), recently signed into law, puts a lot of money on the table to help with this transition, navigating the plethora of grant and funding opportunities adds yet another layer of complexity. 

Bringing together energy and sustainability people from municipalities, hospitals, universities, housing authorities and other nonprofits, the Decarbonizing Communities & Campuses workshop will provide case studies, pathways, and tangible solutions in a collaborative, interactive format. Network with colleagues, learn what has worked, and where the challenges are while collectively problem solving in segment-specific tracks led by industry experts and peers.  

Workshop Tracks 

  • Communities: Designed for municipal staff and representatives.
    Hosted by John Balfe, Senior Buildings & Community Solutions Manager, NEEP. 
  • Campuses: Designed for staff from education, healthcare, and YMCA sectors.
    Hosted by Erin Camp, Energy Sustainability and Analytics Program Manager, PowerOptions. 
  • Affordable Housing: Designed for representatives from housing authorities, community development corporations, and the members that serve them.
    Hosted by Erin Cosgrove, Public Policy Manager, NEEP.




9:00 am

Coffee and Connect

Informal opportunity to connect with colleagues, speakers, plus NEEP & PowerOptions staff. 

10:00 am

Opening Plenary

Arah Schuur, Executive Director, NEEP
Heather Takle, President & CEO, PowerOptions

Elizabeth Mahony, Commissioner of the Department of Energy Resources (DOER)

10:45 am - Communities

Retrofitting Existing Municipal Buildings

Decarbonization roadmaps are an important part of strategically managing energy at the community level. They help communities plan ahead and provide a proposal for retrofitting their existing municipal buildings over time. These roadmaps can identify cost-effective strategies for replacing outdated systems and can chart a course for action. This approach involves studying existing buildings, identifying priority projects, understanding key technologies, determining financing options, and implementing upgrades. This session will showcase successful approaches and pitfalls to avoid when going through the process of retrofitting municipal buildings, and will serve as a model so that others can establish plans for their own municipal building retrofit projects.

Ken Pruitt, Sustainability Director, Town of Winchester
Martha Grover, Sustainability Manager, City of Melrose

Nick Stoutt, Assistant Commissioner for Architectural Services, Department of Public Works, City of Cambridge

10:45 am - Campuses

Planning: A Whole-Campus Approach to Net Zero

Moving toward net zero is more than the important incremental steps of installing heat pumps and electrifying systems. It also means making sure these advances can be supported and sustained by current infrastructure. Considerations like whether utility connections can handle extra loads and what buildings need to be ready for electrification are important. This session will discuss ongoing capital planning processes and the balance between individual building and central infrastructure upgrades. Experts will guide you through planning for how to execute a carbon neutral master plan. We’ll also explore how to leverage infrastructure and deferred maintenance plans to support goals, as well as decarbonizing through procurement. 

Eric Friedman, Leading by Example Director, Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER)
Dano Weisbord, Chief Sustainability Officer, Tufts University

10:45am - Affordable Housing

Electrifying Low Income Housing: It Can Be Done

Decarbonizing existing affordable housing is an important part of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and helping states and communities reach their climate goals. Yet, for many customers these technologies are new and unfamiliar. This session will dispel some of the common myths around what it takes to reduce electricity consumption and decarbonize buildings. 

Greg Abbe, Sustainability Program Developer, Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development
Clare Doyle Dowd, Director of Policy and Community, BlocPower
Tyler Leeds, Vice President, Project Development, Sunwealth


Networking Lunch with Solution Spotlight
Dave Lis, Technology & Market Solutions Director, NEEP
Heather Takle, President & CEO, PowerOptions

1:15 pm - Communities

Electrifying Municipal Fleets 

Municipal fleets have unique challenges when thinking about electrification. This session will discuss the complexity of electrifying community fleets, including those hard-to-electrify vehicle types, and expert recommendations for timing and process of converting those vehicles. We’ll also dive into electric vehicle incentives available to municipalities. Finally, our speakers will discuss best practices for developing and implementing a plan for a network of electric vehicle charging stations that can support municipal fleet charging and bolster adoption of electric vehicles community-wide.

Ken Pruitt, Sustainability Director, Town of Winchester
Mark Rabinsky, Deputy Director, Green Communities Division at Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources

Erina Keefe, Sustainability Director, City of Beverly

1:15 pm - Campuses

Electrifying & Retrofitting Campus Energy Systems

When planning the path to net zero, it’s important to consider necessary upgrades and updates for existing and older buildings. This session will look at both low-hanging fruit and long-term strategy. We’ll take a step-by–step approach that begins with incremental energy efficiency upgrades and then moves toward larger scale upgrades and more impactful projects. We’ll discuss the challenges of electrifying and retrofitting energy systems over time, while also balancing ongoing advances in technology. We’ll compare shorter-term opportunities, such as moving fuel-fired systems to electric, to longer-term planning, such as geothermal or evolving your energy audit into a decarbonization plan. This session will also examine life-cycle cost analysis and possible funding sources for transitioning these older facilities into modern and clean buildings that support your decarbonization goals.   

Jean Carroon, Principal, Goody Clancy 
Jason D'Antona, Director of Engineering & Utilities, Mass General Brigham

Krista Lillis, Energy Program Deputy Director, Commonwealth of Massachusetts

1:15 pm - Affordable Housing

Electrifying Affordable Multifamily Housing 

Residential multifamily properties, especially affordable housing, are a substantial share of the housing stock in the Northeast and represent a significant opportunity to capture energy savings through cost-effective retrofit measures. The nature of affordable multifamily housing creates unique challenges, but identifying these challenges and developing strategies to address them will lead to reduced energy costs, as well as more comfortable and healthy homes. This session will take a look at two different case studies from design to construction and identify replicable turnkey solutions. 
Mary Wambui-Ekop, Asset Manager Affordable Housing, Planning Office for Urban Affairs


Julie Klump, Vice President, Preservation of Affordable Housing

Marcia Hannon, Senior Project Manager, CASCAP, Inc.

2:30 pm - Communities

Clean Heating & Cooling Campaigns 

For communities, engaging residents and business owners is a crucial part of achieving climate goals but also presents a major challenge. Implementing mandatory building upgrade programs is a non-starter in many localities, especially when looking across sectors at single family, small multifamily, and small commercial buildings. Communities must strive to provide a variety of resources that spur action from building to building and neighbor to neighbor. Clean heating and cooling campaigns and energy coaches are successful models that provide guidance and build confidence in private building owners who want to retrofit their HVAC systems with more efficient, electric systems. This session will dive into key considerations that go into developing these types of programs at the local level - what training is needed, what materials already exist, what funding is available for these types of initiatives - and share examples of successful campaigns.

Ken Pruitt, Sustainability Director, Town of Winchester
Talia Fox, Sustainability Manager, Town of Arlington
Travis Estes, COO, Abode

2:30 pm - Campuses

Resiliency: Deploying Microgrids and Storage Solutions 
A reliable energy supply is critical to keeping higher education, healthcare, other nonprofit facilities, and campuses running smoothly. Outages and downtime caused by increasingly frequent extreme weather events can have dire impacts on health, safety, and productivity. Microgrids and energy storage solutions help to mitigate these risks and create resilient campuses by offering grid flexibility and energy savings, and allowing these buildings to serve as community hubs during extreme weather events. This session will explore energy and non-energy benefits of deploying microgrids and energy storage, and will provide guidance on how to integrate these designs and quantify these impacts when making the case for your next project.

Rees Sweeney-Taylor, Net Zero Grid Program Manager, Mass CEC
Wilson Rickerson, Principal, Converge
Shawn Jones, Head of Energy Storage Development, BlueWave Solar

2:30 pm - Affordable Housing

Leveraging State and Federal Funds 

Learn how available state funds, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) and Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), will support deep energy retrofits and electrification efforts in affordable housing. Funding streams are available now for communities to utilize with millions more on the way. This session will look at opportunities available on the national and state level including examples of programs that can be accessed to advance efficiency and electrification in affordable housing. 
Emily Jones, Senior Program Officer,

Elisabeth Krautscheid, Special Projects Manager, Action for Boston Community Development

3:45 p.m.

Closing Plenary 
Wrap-up. Look ahead.
Arah Schuur, Executive Director, NEEP
Heather Takle, President & CEO, PowerOptions

Registration Details

General PO & NEEP Membership For Profit
$75 $50 $200

PowerOptions and NEEP are committed to creating events and programming that are accessible to all. To uphold our intention to promote diversity, inclusion, and equity in all we do, we’ve set up a pay what you can (PWYC) option. For more information, please contact Jessica Augat


This workshop is being held at the College of the Holy Cross in the Hogan Center. Recently listed as an environmentally responsible college in The Princeton Review Guide to Green Colleges, Holy Cross offers attendees EV charging stations and is conveniently located by Union Station for travel by train. Book your stay at the nearby Hilton Garen Inn to accommodate your lodging needs.

Sponsorship Opportunities

We have sponsorship packages available. For more details about partnering with PowerOptions & NEEP, please visit our sponsorship sheet. For additional information, please contact Industry Relations & Event Manager, Jessica Augat.

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