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How — and how not — to constructively build climate-ready school buildings

Jack McCarthy, executive director of the Massachusetts School Building Authority, defended the authority’s track record on green buildings.Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

I was very disappointed to read in Sabrina Shankman’s article “Many new schools not meeting state’s green goals” (Page A1, June 2) that the Massachusetts School Building Authority continues to approve and fund new school construction powered by fossil fuels. Surely it is obvious, given the state’s long-term climate plans and the critical reality of global warming, that this policy is incredibly shortsighted and needs to be changed as soon as possible (especially as we consider how long into the future these new buildings will persist).

Further, MSBA executive director Jack McCarthy’s statements indicating that the reality is that wealthier communities can afford to build and enjoy net-zero buildings while poorer districts must settle for cheaper fossil fuel systems which exacerbate the polluting conditions in these environmental justice communities is a profound statement of the major inequities that continue to shape our state. I call on all our elected leaders, especially state Treasurer Deb Goldberg, who oversees the MSBA, to right this wrong before any more schools are built.


Betsy Drinan


Re “Many new schools not meeting state’s green goals: This article paints a dire picture of Massachusetts’ inability to fund the building of “climate-friendly” new schools. But what those calling for greater action — as well as those concerned about costs — fail to consider is the impact of using highly trained and skilled mechanical insulators to help meet desired carbon-reduction goals.

Insulators trained in the most technologically advanced applications play a critical role in implementing energy-efficient building plans in a cost-effective way, allowing the state to meet climate goals called for by over 100 local officials. In fact, such practices were among recommendations made by the US Department of Energy in its “Guide to Financing EnergySmart Schools.”

Science has repeatedly warned that our world is at risk of catastrophic rising global temperatures and more extreme weather events, and K-12 schools are responsible for excessive energy consumption and waste, according to the DOE. Let’s use expert insulators to build green schools.


Jeff Saliba

Business Manager

Heat & Frost Insulators & Allied Workers Local 6


Does one hand know what the other is doing? Officially, the Commonwealth is moving with all possible speed toward a net-zero carbon future. Meanwhile, on the ground, the Massachusetts School Building Authority is pumping billions of public dollars into new school buildings that will burn fossil fuels for most of this century. What sense is that?

State Treasurer Deb Goldberg oversees the MSBA. She needs to ensure that the MSBA makes funding available for renewable energy projects in school districts for all their buildings. The federal Inflation Reduction Act will provide direct rebates to districts that install renewable energy systems. The MSBA could help Massachusetts secure nearly $1 billion for such projects. Goldberg, Governor Maura Healey, climate chief Melissa Hoffer, and their teams need to take the initiative to harvest the fruits of this large public construction program, bringing down the cost of clean fuel through increased public investment. We can reach our climate goals but only if we all pull together.

Brent Whelan