Biking in Belmont

On April 4, 2018, Sustainable Belmont organized a panel discussion of many approaches to increase biking and safety in our community.

Russ Leino, Chair of Community Path Implementation Advisory Committee
Jeff Roth, Former Chair of Community Path Advisory Committee
Lucia Willie, Belmont resident proposing bike/skate park
Spencer Grober, MAPC, on regional efforts to improve biking
Karl Alexander, Zagster on dockless bike sharing

Moderated by two Belmont biking enthusiasts, Martin Plass and John Kolterman

Presentation slides: SB – Biking Belmont-All Presentations 4-4-2018r

Belmont Citizen’s Forum Volunteer Day is April 28

Belmont Citizens Forum in conjunction with the Judy Record Conservation Fund

6th Annual Lone Tree Hill Volunteer Day, April 28, 9 am – noon. Rain or Shine!

On Saturday, April 28, from 9 am–noon, the Belmont Citizens Forum in conjunction with the Judy Record Conservation Fund is sponsoring its sixth annual Lone Tree Hill Volunteer Day, and we invite you to participate—rain or shine!

This year, we are having two different work sites, one to plant white pines along the Pine Allee, and a second to clean up the trash along South Pleasant Street, in the area across from Star Market and Artefact Home and Garden.

Pine Allee Tree Planting Work

If you’d like to work on the Pine Allee, meet at the Belmont Citizens Forum white canopy in the Lone Tree Hill parking lot on Mill Street. Please bring a shovel and gloves to plant the trees along the Allee. The Judy Record Conservation Fund is funding the Allee project to replace the trees that were either diseased or not viable in some other way.  The Tree Specialists, Inc. will be supervising the work.

Trash Cleanup at South Pleasant Street

If you’d like to work on the much-needed trash removal along South Pleasant Street, meet at the green-and-white “Belmont Bikes” Belmont Citizens Forum tent at the bottom of Coal Road, basically opposite the Star Market.

Students Earn Community Service Credits

High school and middle school students can earn community service credits—check in at the Belmont Citizens Forum tent or table, and make sure we sign off on your work. We recommend that children under the age of 12 be accompanied by an adult.

We suggest wearing closed shoes, long sleeves and long pants to protect against potential sensitivities to plants and insects. Bring gloves, bug spray, and a water bottle.

This volunteer event is made possible by our corporate sponsors, including:

Platinum Level Sponsor: Northland Residential

Gold Level Sponsors: Ann Mahon Realty, Belmont Land Trust, Cityside Subaru, East Boston Savings Bank and Watertown Savings Bank

Silver Level Sponsors:

Artefact Home and Garden, Belmont Savings Bank, Cambridge Savings Bank, Century 21 Adams Lawndale, East Cambridge Savings Bank, Middlesex Savings Bank and Renaissance Realty

Our Community Cosponsors include:

Belmont Land Management Committee for Lone Tree Hill, Belmont Vision 21 Implementation Committee, Mass Audubon Habitat Sanctuary and Sustainable Belmont.

Check for more info or email

Belmont’s Proposed Plastic Bag Ban

A group has been pushing for a plastic bag ban in Belmont, similar to ones in Arlington and Somerville. This ban would require merchants to use paper bags or reusable bags for shoppers to carry away their merchandise. By banning plastic shopping bags, it will improve marine habitats, (see links to research below) reduce litter, and recycling contamination. (They cannot be recycled curbside!)

Sustainable Belmont met in December prior to the formulation of the proposed ban policy and voted to “support a ban that would preferably reduce carbon emissions.” Banning plastic bags will increase the use of paper bags. Carbon emissions, water and air pollution are many times greater with paper bags than with plastic. (see links to research below) Paper shopping bags can be reduced by charging a nominal fee. This is the kind of ban Cambridge and Boston (to be implemented later this year) have in place. Anyone who’s shopped in Cambridge has been asked, “would you like to buy a paper bag?” This simple question changes behavior–as many of us will remember to bring our own bags. However, this nominal fee is not part of the proposed plastic shopping bag ban for Belmont.

Being an environmentalist these days is often not clear cut. Where ever you stand on this issue, you should let your precinct town meeting members know your views prior to May’s Town Meeting.

For more information on how plastic litter harms the environment:
Rochman, Tanaka and Takada (2016),Sussarellu et al, (2015) Derraik (2002)

For more information on the environmental impacts of plastic vs. paper bags:[2]_2.pdf

Belmont’s Climate Action Plan

Belmont’s Climate Action Plan

Belmont’s Climate Action Plan Needs Interim Goals

At the first meeting in 2018, a day prior to a “bomb cyclone,” an unusual extreme weather event bringing record high tides, with flooding and hurricane force winds, Sustainable Belmont gathered to discuss our Climate Action Plan.

As the above slide shows, Belmont is lagging behind it’s trajectory for 2050. The problem is that the longer we put off reducing carbon emissions, the more challenging and expensive this task becomes. This is important for our kids future, since scientists point out that the atmospheric level of CO2 needs to drop to 350 ppm to keep the earth from warming–we’re heading for increasing global temps beyond 2 degrees celsius. We are currently over 400 ppm and continuing to accelerate emissions. CO2 takes hundreds of years to dissipate, so emissions accumulate–like a bathtub with many faucets and only one drain.

Humans often ignore goals far into the future, but more immediate goals can serve to motivate changes. What interim goals make the most sense? For instance, Concord has committed to having 100% of their electricity provided from renewable sources by 2030. Belmont could commit to something similar and by hiring an energy manager as many towns have to manage the shift away from fossil fuels.

Paradigm Shift

Some in attendance drew attention to a  shift that needs to happen in our thinking about energy: in addition to efficiency to consider fossil fuel free options. For instance, electric vehicles (EVs) use less than half of the fossil fuels needed per mile (given the source of electricity and transfer losses) than a traditional car. Air source heat pumps are another example of lower fossil fuel use over high efficiency oil or gas furnaces. With renewable energy and battery storage increasing capacity on the grid as expected over the next few years, these comparisons favor electric appliances even more.

What steps can we take?

When weighing public policy options, Belmont’s town officials, from the Selectmen, Town Administration to Schools need to consider what impact different policies will have on the town’s climate action plan.

In 2018, to ignore the town’s carbon footprint when deciding policy is negligence. Most citizens want the environment to be a consideration whether its building a new high school or adding more renewable energy to our electricity.

As individuals, we can begin to think about how we can reduce our fossil fuel consumption, and not just energy efficiency. Consider EV’s and air source heat pumps rather than gas or oil fired appliances.

For more information, download the presentation: Jan 3 SB CAP presentation.pptx

Sustainable Belmont Votes

Sustainable Belmont Votes


At December’s meeting, Sustainable Belmont’s Advisory Group and Members met and voted on the following measures:

  • Approved efforts to make the new high school zero net energy, a building standard that will balance the energy consumed with energy generated, mainly by using solar collectors. The assumption is that the lower operating costs will save the town money.
  • Supports the PTA/PTO Green Alliance’s proposal to improve recycling, add food recovery and composting in Belmont Public Elementary and Middle School cafeterias.
  • Supports efforts to define a plastic shopping bag ban that preferably reduces carbon. Reducing plastic shopping bags will benefit wildlife and decrease litter problems.
  • Supports a proposed State law that requires municipal light plants such as Belmont Light to buy renewable energy, similar to rules that guide investor-owned utilities. This change is supported also by MA Climate Action Network and many of its affiliates. If enacted, this rule would further help de-carbonize Belmont’s electricity and support the Town’s Climate Action Plan.

Belmont Drives Electric!


This new community-run program, sponsored by Sustainable Belmont, Belmont Energy Committee, Belmont Light and Belmont residents, promotes the use of electric vehicles in Belmont. Based on the highly successful Belmont Goes Solar model, the program includes pre-negotiated deals with local car dealers, Belmont Light monetary incentives, and community volunteers available to answer your questions.

Converting from a gas-combustion powered car to an electric vehicle could cut your transportation carbon footprint by half.  Save money and help reduce Belmont’s carbon footprint.

Belmont Drives Electric is also working with Belmont Light and the town to implement public charging stations for EV’s in Belmont and get some electric cars for the town fleet. We will keep you updated on the progress. Please talk to your town representatives to support this program. Thank you!


Nov. 12, 2016
Belmont Drives Electric Information & Test Drive Event

Info Session: 1:30-2:30pm
Test Drives: 2:30-4:30pm
Belmont High School Cafeteria & Parking Lot

Why is now a great time to consider an EV in Belmont? How do electric vehicles (EVs) handle in the snow and cold? Are EVs budget friendly? Come find out answers to these questions and more at a free public educational event sponsored by Belmont Drives Electric on Saturday, November 12 from 1:30 to 4:30 pm. During the information session, Belmont residents can find out about time-sensitive cost-saving incentives, need-to-know information regarding charging an EV, the environmental benefits of EVs, and other important information, such as efficiency of EVs in cold weather as well as maintenance and overall cost. Belmont EV owners will discuss their experiences and there will be time for questions and answers.

After the one-hour information session, EVs will be available to test drive a variety of EVs and PHEVs (plug0in hybrid electrical vehicles) and there will be a live demonstration of how to charge an EV.

Refreshments will be served.
Rain or shine!

For more information, please see the flyer here: Flyer – BDE Nov 12 Info Event.

December 15, 2016
EV Info Event & Test Drives at Belmont Light Open House
Belmont Light, 40 Prince Street

Details to be announced

More info:
To talk to a volunteer EV coach 617-855-5405
or email:

2017 Green Belmont Garden Tour: Map

Front Yard Garden

You can do a lot with a front yard. Gone are the days of manicured lawns, English privet and the like. Design for drought and plants that give back!

Map Options

Enter for a chance at a rain barrel or compost bin at the gardens or visit or the Beech St. Center.

Thank you to Organizers: Jeri Weiss, Nancy Forbes, Martha Cohen, Lucia Gates, and Jan Kruse for their ongoing dedication in organizing the tour. Thank you to all the generous gardeners who opened their yards to our community. We always welcome new volunteers and gardeners – please contact Sustainable Belmont to volunteer.

We hope you enjoy the 7th annual Green Belmont Garden Tour – a tour of varied organic and sustainable gardens that will inspire you to create an environmentally friendly, attractive and productive outdoor space of your own. These gardens, whether big or small, all make excellent use of the available space and sustainable practices.

Shade gardens provide a great retreat. Design with leaf variety in mind to create visual interest. Photo Credit: edgeplot

Shade gardens provide a great retreat. Design with leaf variety in mind to create visual interest. Photo Credit: edgeplot

What do we mean by “organic?” Organic landscapes do not use toxic pesticides and herbicides and instead focus on building resilient, nutritious soils that support strong, healthy plants and conserve water and other resources. The goal is to create a healthy environment for homeowners, children, pets and wildlife – especially birds, butterflies and our most important pollinators, bees.

You will see many types of gardens, some focus primarily on vegetables, others on ornamentals, and many on both. There are gardens with fruit trees and berry bushes, with sun and shade environments, rain barrels, compost bins, chicken coops and beehives. Please ask your garden host questions about anything you are curious about. We hope you take home some ideas you can use!