July 2021 Program Newsletter
This summer has been a time to dig into new projects and programs that are helping our communities increase their sustainability and resilience.

We welcomed two new faces to our team, UNH Sustainability Fellow Maggie Peard and Sustainability and Transportation Intern Jonathan Gagne. Check out their articles on stakeholder feedback on coastal resilience in the region and new legislation for climate action in Maine.

The SMPDC Energy Audit Program is in full swing, and we have completed our first two energy audits. We're very excited to share the final report for the Tides, Taxes, and New Tactics sea level rise project and an upcoming webinar on Food Waste strategies for municipalities. Scroll down to learn more!
Southern Maine Weighs in on Coastal Resilience Planning
This summer, we kicked off a two-year planning process, funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, to create a regional coastal resilience plan for Maine’s 10 southernmost coastal towns. The plan seeks to provide specific guidance and implementation-ready projects that will help protect the region’s people, property, vital natural areas, and economy from intensifying coastal hazards such as flooding and erosion.

A survey was sent out to key stakeholders in late June asking about top concerns and priorities, as well as challenges and opportunities. Respondents weighed in on various resilience-building strategies (see below), revealing considerable support for directing development away from at-risk areas, restoring natural resources, and employing nature-based solutions. Stay tuned for a full summary of survey results, continued updates, and additional opportunities to engage with the project!
By Maggie Peard, UNH Sustainability Fellow
Maggie is working with SMPDC to support stakeholder engagement, data collection, and the design of a web-based engagement portal as part of the NFWF-funded Regional Coastal Resilience Planning Project. Maggie has a background in municipal climate action and resilience planning with a focus on equitable engagement processes. She is passionate about finding more effective ways to communicate about climate change and integrating equity into climate planning. She has a B.A. in Environmental Policy from Williams College and is currently pursuing an M.A. in Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning from Tufts University. 
Tides, Taxes, and New Tactics Sea Level Rise Project
The Regional Program is excited to announce the release of the final report for the Tides, Taxes, and New Tactics sea level rise project!

The report summarizes the results of the sea level rise vulnerability assessments for Kennebunk, Wells, and York; presents maps showing impacts from 1.6, 3.9, and 6.1 feet of sea level rise; provides an overview of coastal flood hazards facing southern Maine; and presents a range of adaptation and resilience strategies that towns can integrate into existing planning, policy, and decision-making frameworks. While the assessment results are specific to the project towns, the adaptation strategies are transferable to any coastal municipality.
SMPDC Funds First Energy Audits!
The SMPDC Energy Audit Program has started delivering heavily subsidized energy audits to small businesses and farmers in the entire SMPDC region. Energy audits identify energy efficiency and renewable energy projects that can reduce energy consumption, utility costs, and fossil fuel emissions. This program is made possible by a $100,000 USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) Energy Audits and Renewable Energy Development Grant.

An energy audit is often the first step in making your commercial building more efficient. It analyses all aspects of a building’s energy use, including:

  • Space Heating and Cooling
  • Lighting systems
  • Other power systems (such as exhaust fans or hot water heating)
  • Plug/industrial/process loads
  • Building envelope (the exterior of the building & its resistance to air, water, & heat)
New Legislation Advances Climate Action in Maine
In support of Maine’s climate goals, Governor Mills recently signed several climate-related bills into law to help Maine reduce emissions, analyze and avoid the impacts of inaction, protect vulnerable communities, and foster economic opportunity while advancing equity. These bills include:

  • (LD 99) An act to require the state to divest itself of assets invested in the fossil fuel industry The Treasurer of State and the Board of Trustees of the Maine Public Employees Retirement System may no longer invest state assets in any fossil fuel company or corporation related to the fossil fuel industry. Maine is the first state to divest its investments in this way.

  • (LD 815) An act to decarbonize schools This law will fund developing a program to provide technical and financial support for K-12 schools for energy efficiency projects i.e. Planning, design, and procurement of construction projects, solar power purchases, or equipment that will help schools transition to carbon neutral.

Funding provided for municipal climate action:
  • (LD 221: State Budget) Includes funding for municipal emissions reduction planning, technical assistance, and grants for community climate projects and resilience planning and implementation.

  • (LD1733: State Fiscal Recovery Funds) Includes funding for a climate corps pilot initiative, weatherization and energy efficiency upgrades for municipalities, municipal electric vehicle charging stations, transportation infrastructure adaptation improvements, municipal culvert and stream crossing upgrades, municipal wastewater and infrastructure projects, and more.
By Jonathan Gagne, Sustainability and Transportation Intern
Jonathan is working with SMPDC this summer on a number of sustainability and transportation focused projects throughout the Southern Maine region. He’s a UNH 2020 graduate with a B.S. in Environmental & Natural Resource Economics and EcoGastronomy with a strong focus in community and environmental planning. Before joining SMPDC, Jonathan worked with Maine/NH businesses on responsible waste, recycling and plastics management projects. Jonathan is passionate about renewable energy, local food systems and how businesses can be a force for doing good for New England communities. 
Our Towns in the News
Upcoming Webinar on Food Waste
Did you know nearly 40% of all food produced in the U.S. is wasted?

Join us next month to get your hands dirty as SMPDC dives into the challenges Maine municipalities and industry leaders are facing with food waste and how Maine is working hard to make a difference. Explore the issues at hand and spark the conversation on how you and your communities can help Maine work towards a waste-less future.

Details Coming Soon!
Funding Opportunities
  • Maine DEP: Stream Crossing Grant. $4 million in available funding to be awarded in a single round through a Request for Applications, which is expected to open August 30, 2021 with proposals due by November 19, 2021.

  • Island Institute: Tom Glenn Community Impact Fund. Grants and revolving loans for community infrastructure planning are available for broadband, energy, and sea level rise projects (awarded on a rolling basis).

  • Maine Community Foundation: Maine Land Protection Grant. Provides grants for land acquisition or land conservation easement projects that build strong connections between people in Maine and our land and water (Deadline Sept. 15). 
Other Trainings and Resources
  • Building Energy Codes Training Series: On July 1, 2021, new energy-related building codes became affective in Maine. Efficiency Maine put on a training series for code enforcement officers and building contracters. View training materials on Efficiency Maine's webiste.

  • A Climate of Change: Sea Level Rise, a new film from the Island Institute, follows the community of Vinalhaven, Maine, over a two-year period as they have conversations around planning for and responding to sea level rise on the island. It highlights some of the challenges they face, but more importantly, shows us how a small, yet engaged community can lead the way and plan for change. Watch the film here.
Southern Maine Planning & Development Commission | Website