University of Massachusetts Lowell

At a Glance


College or University

Project Types

Clean and Renewable Energy, Climate Justice/Energy Equity, Engagement and Behavior Change




Lowell, MA


Dillan Patel developed an environmental justice strategy for a networked geothermal project in Lowell, Massachusetts.


The Rist Institute for Sustainability and Energy at the University of Massachusetts Lowell (UML) is a participant in National Grid’s networked geothermal project. It wanted to make Lowell’s geothermal project a template for future projects in the country.

EDF previously partnered with the Rist Institute to develop an equitable community engagement strategy for the project. Dillan Patel worked with the Rist Institute to build on the recommendations from EDF’s strategy.


Dillan met with civic organizations to discuss the geothermal project, understand their services, and understand issues facing communities. He used GIS to make maps and created a Story Map for anyone to learn about the project. He also met with municipal staff including the Energy Manager and Energy Advocate to discuss their efforts to promote clean, affordable energy. Dillan developed a strategy to further the project’s equity based on stakeholders’ input. They are:

  • Increase public education and awareness
  • Create community ownership and maximize involvement
  • Maximize energy efficiency and GHG reduction
  • Create a pipeline for good green jobs
  • Ensure tenant security
  • Encourage citizen science and data transparency
  • Increase tree coverage

Potential Impact

These suggestions are the starting point for a highly collaborative approach between National Grid, UML, and community organizations. Research and data stemming from this project will inform how future geothermal projects are implemented in a manner that promotes environmental justice.

The long-term impact of this strategy will be providing comfortable, affordable, and zero-carbon energy to as many residents as possible; helping transition natural gas workers to green collar jobs; and directing benefits to historically disinvested communities without prompting displacement.

Related Links