HEET and Building Decarbonization Coalition Celebrate Mayor Wu’s Announcement of a Geothermal Network for the Franklin Field Community

Zeyneb Magavi, Mayor Michelle Wu, and Ania Camargo in Dorchester at the Franklin Field affordable housing community.
January 25, 2024
Boston’s first-of-its-kind clean energy project is a bold affirmation of Mayor Wu’s commitment to climate justice and supports the Commonwealth’s decision to move away from natural gas

HEET and Building Decarbonization Coalition (BDC) extend their warmest congratulations and gratitude to Boston Mayor Michelle Wu and her environmental team for pioneering the equitable decarbonization of Boston’s buildings. The mayor recently announced plans for the City’s first-ever utility networked geothermal system, which will deliver renewable, non-combusting heating and cooling to 346 families in Dorchester’s Franklin Field affordable housing community.

This project is the latest of the mayor’s efforts to realize her vision of Boston as “a worldwide beacon for climate action and environmental justice.” The Franklin Field project, led by National Grid, will be the latest state-approved networked geothermal pilot in the Commonwealth. It joins National Grid’s Lowell pilot project, which will start later this year, while Eversource anticipates their own 140-customer system in Framingham to be operational this spring.

Geothermal networks, also known as thermal energy networks (TENs), are a neighborhood-scale decarbonization solution gaining traction nationwide. The ultra-efficient approach leverages existing, proven technology and will significantly reduce the projected build-out of the electric grid while curbing emissions at the speed and scale needed to tackle the climate crisis.

Ania Camargo, BDC’s Thermal Networks Senior Manager, hailed the announcement, saying “It represents a significant step in the growing national movement from fossil gas to renewable energy – and an opportunity to collaborate with the workforce to uplift entire neighborhoods, improving clean energy access and affordability for all.”

As the mayor said in her 2024 State of the City address, “home is the place where everything starts,” and with the Franklin Field project, Mayor Wu has raised the bar on what “home” means. “Everyone should be able to live in a safe, comfortable home free from harmful emissions and the byproducts of combustion,” said Audrey Schulman, HEET’s Co-founder and Co-Executive Director. A nonprofit climate solutions incubator based in Boston, HEET first proposed the concept of utility-scale geothermal networks in 2017.

Joel Wool, Deputy Administrator for Sustainability & Capital Transformation at the Boston Housing Authority, developed and will manage the Franklin Field project with his team. “The Boston Housing Authority is thrilled to pilot networked geothermal in partnership with National Grid and advance Mayor Wu’s goal to make public housing fossil free,” said Wool. “Thank you to the community and climate leaders who have opened the pathway in Massachusetts for geothermal heating, and we look forward to continued progress on climate action.”