What's a green bank? Here's how it works and how Massachusetts' is different

Governor Maura Healey speaks to people gathered in front of the Massachusetts State House. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
Governor Maura Healey speaks to people gathered in front of the Massachusetts State House. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

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Today’s Flag Day, and in case you’re wondering, here’s the latest on the effort to redesign the Massachusetts seal, flag and motto. (My personal stance on the subject is very simple: cod flag.)

We should hear an official recommendation from the commission that’s been studying the issue this fall. Until then, let’s get to the news:

A different kind of green: Gov. Maura Healey announced yesterday Massachusetts is setting up a “green bank” to help the state reach its 2050 climate goals. Technically, it’s called the “Massachusetts Community Climate Bank” (but that’s not quite as catchy). The important part is the bank is a first-of-its-kind effort to spur outside investment in more climate-friendly, affordable housing.

  • How does a green bank work? The basic idea is the government puts some money forward to offer low-interest loans to climate initiatives — with the hope the initial seed money will make those projects more attractive to private investors who are interested in the sector, but maybe not ready to front all the money. In this case, Massachusetts is seeding its bank with $50 million. Healey says that money could similarly be used to leverage federal funds from the Inflation Reduction Act, too.
  • Massachusetts isn’t the first to launch the concept. At least six other states — as well as countries like Japan, Switzerland and the United Kingdom — have set up various forms of green banks, according to the Green Bank Network. For example, Connecticut has one that focuses on climate-friendly building.
  • What makes Massachusetts’ green bank different is it will focus specifically on affordable housing. That mostly means retrofitting existing buildings to make them more energy efficient. As WBUR’s Miriam Wasser reports, such renovations — everything from heat pumps to solar panels — can cost a lot of money up front. Healey says the state hopes its loans can accelerate this work without leaving lower-income communities behind.
  • Why focus on retrofitting? The state’s climate plan calls for cutting emissions from residential heating in half by 2030 — and by 95% by 2050. Unlike cars, buildings stick around for decades. Healey’s administration estimates over 80% of the buildings that will exist in 2050 are already built.

Want to throw a block party? Boston will give you up to $750. Mayor Michelle Wu’s office has opened block party grant applications to help Boston residents and community groups buy food, party supplies, lawn games and other items for community gatherings this summer.

  • Before you ask: No, you can’t use the money to buy beer (or any alcohol). You have to fill out a grant application form explaining what the money will be used on, among other details.
  • The city is also offering two types of “block party kits” you can borrow: a “game kit” with stuff like cornhole and frisbees, and a “cool kit” with items like water balloons and a splash tower.

Ludlow’s school committee has rejected a controversial proposal that would have removed dozens of books from libraries and changed how future books are selected in the western Massachusetts town. NEPM’s Jill Kaufman reports the proposal didn’t even muster enough support for a vote on the five-member committee.

Prepare for a funky Fourth: Award-winning R&B vocal group En Vogue will headline this year’s Boston Pops Fourth of July concert on the Esplanade.

  • Pops conductor Keith Lockhart says the concert will go beyond orchestral music to include what he calls modern classics. “We’re thrilled to have gotten En Vogue,” Lockhart told WBUR’s Jacob Garcia. “They are really going to bring the party. I love their songs myself, even though I’m a little old for when they really hit. But ‘Free Your Mind,’ for instance, is a great song.”
  • En Vogue won’t be the only ones at the Hatch Shell. Read the full lineup here, which includes country duo LOCASH and Broadway actress and singer Mandy Gonzalez.

P.S.— Have you been listening to WBUR’s new podcast The Common? Every weekday since November, the team has been bringing you big stories from Greater Boston — but they want to hear from you, too. Make host Darryl C. Murphy’s day and fill out this quick survey about what you want to see from the podcast going forward.


Nik DeCosta-Klipa Newsletter Editor
Nik DeCosta-Klipa is the newsletter editor for WBUR.



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