Decarbonizing Communities & Campuses

By PowerOptions Team

An event for Municipalities, Schools, Colleges & Universities, Hospitals, Senior Living, YMCAs, Housing Authorities, and other nonprofits.

""PowerOptions logo
NEEP logo

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, museums, YMCAs, 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 authority, community development corporations, and the members that serve them. Hosted by Erin Cosgrove, Public Policy Manager, NEEP.


9:00 amCoffee and Connect
Informal opportunity to connect with colleagues, speakers, plus NEEP & PowerOptions staff. 
10:00 amOpening PlenaryKick-off
Arah Schuur
Executive Director, NEEP
Heather Takle
President & CEO, PowerOptions

Elizabeth Mahony
Commissioner of the Department of Energy Resources (DOER)
10:45 am – CommunitiesRetrofitting 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 These roadmaps can identify cost-effective strategies for replacing outdated systems and can chart a course for action.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
10:45 am – CampusesPlanning: 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 Freidman
Leading by Example Director, Department of Energy Resources (DOER)
10:45am – Affordable HousingDecarbonizing Affordable 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
NoonNetworking Lunch with Solution Spotlight
1:15 pm – CommunitiesElectrifying 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
1:15 pm – CampusesElectrifying & Retrofitting Buildings
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 
1:15 pm – Affordable HousingElectrifying 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
Planning Office for Urban Outreach, Archdiocese of Boston
2:30 pm – CommunitiesClean 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
2:30 pm – CampusesResiliency: Deploying Microgrids & 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.
2:30 pm – Affordable HousingLeveraging 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.
3:40 p.m.Closing Plenary
Wrap-up. Look ahead.
Arah Schuur
Executive Director, NEEP
Heather Takle
President & CEO, PowerOptions

Registration Details

General tickets:  $75
Member tickets: $50

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 Liam Sullivan.


This workshop is being held at the College of 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.

Sponsorship Details

We have sponsorship packages available. For more details about partnering with PowerOptions and NEEP, please visit our sponsorship sheet. For additional questions, please contact our Vice President of Marketing and Communications, Liam Sullivan.

Special Thanks to Lead Sponsors

Special Thanks to Supporting Sponsors

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