Happening Today:

Today's schedule is in turmoil after a fire triggered an emergency evacuation and subsequent closure of the State House that spilled into Wednesday.

Noon | MassDOT Board of Directors meets in person. | 10 Park Plaza, MassDOT Board Room, Boston

5:30 p.m. | Worcester Fire Department holds its first of three open houses for potential firefighters. Other sessions take placeJuly 22 and July 26. | 141 Grove St., Worcester

6 p.m. | A proposed arts and cultural community space at Revere Beach is up for discussion at a Metropolitan Area Planning Council virtual public meeting.

Massachusetts needs a mass remodel for most of its roughly 2 million buildings in its quest to cut carbon emissions — but at what cost? 

“It’s a good question,” said Matt Walsh, policy analyst at the Metropolitan Area Planning Council. And it’s lingering on the minds of proponents and critics alike as state leaders prepare to roll out funding to help property owners shoulder the cost of green upgrades.

Buildings and homes are the state’s second-biggest polluters after fossil-fuel-guzzling cars and trucks. To help meet state climate goals, a report estimates at least 500,000 residences and 300 million square feet of aging commercial space will need to switch to energy-efficient electric heating  — and that’s just by the end of this decade. The goal is to eventually retrofit all existing buildings.

One thing is clear: “The scale of investment we are going to need here in Massachusetts is in the billions of dollars, not millions,” said MAPC clean energy specialist Brooks Winner.

Proponents of a proposed $300 million Zero Carbon Renovation Fund pitched as a “downpayment” to jumpstart efforts to wean the Bay State’s existing homes and buildings off of non-renewable energy. The 170 organizations — including MAPC — backing the fund, which would be managed by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, say it’s too early to put a number on the total cost of upgrades needed. 

“Once we get some of these projects under our belt, we’ll know what the true costs are,” said Walsh. With buildings accounting for one-third of the state’s total carbon emissions, clean-energy upgrades are a big part of the state’s plan to meet its 2050 net-zero climate goals. 

A spokeswoman for Gov. Maura Healey admitted “decarbonizing our buildings won’t be easy.” A robust workforce build-up as plumbers, HVAC technicians and builders are called en masse to tackle as many as 100,000 retrofits a year by the end of the decade. 

Funding assistance for owners, residents, and businesses looking to upgrade includes: rebates through MassSave, a so-called green-bank Healey said would offer low-interest loans to entice climate investors and a $50 million grant program to retrofit affordable housing. Investment so far has barely put a chip in the tip of the iceberg, but Walsh said the proposed fund, if approved, would set up future efforts for federal funding. Low-to-moderate income people and environmental justice populations will be “first in line.”

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Not a drill: State House evacuated, shuttered due to fire

The State House will stay closed on Wednesday “out of an abundance of caution” after a fire in a basement electrical room yesterday afternoon triggered alarms and a full evacuation, officials said. The People’s House was largely unscathed in the blaze that spread smoke and concerns of carbon monoxide but was contained to the basement. The investigation into the cause of the apparent electrical fire is ongoing.

Boston Fire Commissioner Paul Burke told reporters outside the State House that high voltage wires feeding into a transformer in the basement began burning, causing the fire shortly after 2 p.m. A tweet from Boston Fire confirmed a transformer ignited.

Firefighters escorted State House employees back inside for their belongings, though the building remained closed all afternoon.

The Boston Globe | NBC Boston

Big spender: Gov. Maura Healey spent $83,000 on Ireland trip

Gov. Maura Healey racked up more than $83,000 in charges during her state visit to Ireland last month. The trade trip, which was largely covered with state funds dedicated to tourism and a technology-focused public agency, reports Chris Van Buskirk for The Boston Herald.

The Boston Herald

Clean energy sector faces 38,000 worker shortage

Staffing shortages have hit nearly every industry in the commonwealth, but a new report reveals a gaping workforce hole in the clean energy sector that could threaten the state’s progress in reducing greenhouse-gas emissions by 50% by 2030 in the path to net-zero emissions by 2050, reports Jenny Helwig for Boston Business Journal. The current workforce of 104,000 workers needs a boost by 37% by the end of the decade, according to a new report.

Boston Business Journal

Boston mayor defends list of critics sent to police as attempt to protect city staffers

A list of critics that Boston Mayor Michelle Wu’s administration sent to police was meant to protect city staffers, not intimidate residents, reports Gayla Cawley for The Boston Herald. Wu laughed off notions that her list was similar to the so-called enemies lists by former President Richard Nixon and said the list was made after “threats” and “explicit violence.”

The Boston Herald

Warren pledges to find funds for Cape Cod bridges, protect local waters

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren told Cape Codders that she’s working to secure direct federal funding to rebuild the Bourne and Sagamore bridges twice denied $4 billion by the feds, reports Eve Zuckoff. Warren also doubled down on her opposition to dumping harmful substances from the company charged with decommissioning the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant into local waters.


Pandemic-era rules for assisted living facilities up for debate

The pandemic brought new rules for assisted living and other residential settings that restricted visitors and let assisted living nurses temporarily provide health services that tended to fall to friends and loved ones, reports GBH. Some want some of the rules to stay.


Bye bye BPDNews.com

A switch-up spelled the end for the longrunning dedicated BPD News site and its dedicated URL that was once stamped on every Boston police cruiser, reports Universal Hub. Don’t fret, though. Crime news is still available via police.boston.gov.

Universal Hub

Tufts Medicine in trouble

Tufts Medicine has struggled to compete in Massachusetts’ saturated health care market. Jessica Bartlett of the Globe reports the system announced the elimination of more than 200 positions earlier this year amid operating losses and now the system is asking the state for funding as it confronts some of its most serious financial challenges yet — an urgent need to improve its operations to avoid defaulting on an $800.8 million dollar agreement with bond holders.

The Boston Globe

Dish served cold: North End restaurateur charged in Modern Pastry shooting faces license review

Boston officials may revoke the business license of the owner of Boston restaurant Monica’s Trattoria, who is charged with assault with intent to murder, among other charges, in a shooting that left a bullet hole in the window at Modern Pastry shop, reports Universal Hub. The Licensing Board will consider if Patrick Mendoza has the “character and fitness” to operate a liquor-serving establishment now that he is facing charges for an incident last Wednesday on Hanover Street. The bullet missed its human target.

Universal Hub

Too kind: Greenfield overwhelmed with donations for migrant families 

Officials in Greenfield want residents to cool it with their generosity–at least for a while. Mayor Roxann Wedegartner said the city is out of space to store the mountain of clothing, diapers and other goods donated in the days after the public learned that 43 migrant families, many with young children, are being sheltered temporarily by the state at a local Days Inn. MassLive’s Stephanie Barry reports other cities are dealing with the same dilemma


Salem eyes fast action on wage-theft ordinance

Members of the Salem City Council are signaling support for a local ordinance that would bar the city from doing business with private contractors that have been found to have engaged in wage theft. According to Dustin Luca of the Salem News, the new rules could be adopted as early as September. 

Salem News

UMass Lowell graduate students rally for higher wages, better benefits amid inflation crisis

The union representing graduate student workers at UMass Lowell staged a protest on campus to draw attention to their calls for their stipends to be increased to reflect the rapidly rising cost of living in the area. Cameron Morsberger of the Lowell Sun reports a 2021 deal bumped the yearly stipend to $17,500 for some teaching and resident assistant jobs, a figure the union notes is well below what the government considers enough for an individual to live on in Middlesex County.

Lowell Sun

Heroux hopes to close New Bedford jail within two years

Audrey Cooney of the Standard-Times checks in with Bristol County Sheriff Paul Heroux and finds that six months into his first term, the former Attleboro mayor remains focused on streamlining and simplifying the operations he took over in January. Heroux tells Cooney he hopes to close the ancient Ash Street jail in New Bedford within two years and his office has informed local law enforcement the sheriff’s office will focus less on operations outside the jails and donated a tricked-out mobile command center to the local police.

South Coast Today

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Erin Tiernan was a Editor and Author of MASSterList