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Whale watch boat at seaport in Gloucester, Mass.

When people talk sustainable cities, they talk big cities — cities like Boston, whose “green steam” heats buildings downtown by recycling the steam from electricity generation. The benefit to the environment is right in line with the city’s progressive image.

But metro areas aren’t the only ones that can have a major impact. Gloucester, a Boston suburb, proves it. Here are four lesser-known facts of this small but sustainable town on the North Shore.

Its Wind Turbines Are Saving Them Millions

Gloucester takes unique ownership of its renewable energy. While some may consider a wind turbine unsightly, Gloucester calls theirs “majestic,” according to former Mayor Carolyn Kirk. Clean power has become such a cornerstone of the community that citizens wrote their names on each blade of the wind turbine at Gloucester Engineering’s industrial park. Today, these wind turbines are enough to run all municipal buildings citywide.

Its Water Network Supports Two Other Towns

The power isn’t the only thing that’s clean in Gloucester. Its public water network is literally award-winning. Through a partnership with Veolia, the city operates two 5-million-gallons-per-day (MGD) water filtration plants that use multiple community reservoirs to maximize their flow of drinking water. It also manages sewage from cities Essex and Rockport with a 5.15-MGD wastewater facility, collecting fats, oils and greases (FOGs) for local organizations to use as another renewable resource.

It’s a Base for the Massachusetts Environmental Police

Visitors to Gloucester will find two kinds of police officers: the kind that protects citizens, and the kind that protects the state’s natural resources. Also known as “Game Wardens,” the Massachusetts Environmental Police originally focused on hunting and fishing laws, which play a huge role at America’s first seaport. But as environmental issues have expanded, so have the duties of this unique entity. Gloucester is now a major law enforcement office tasked with boat registration, all-terrain vehicle permits and forest parole for Massachusetts’ Division of State Parks and Recreation.

It’s Been Pursuing City Resilience for 100 Years

Gloucester actually predates Boston in its fishing industry, making it the country’s oldest seaport with particular experience managing coastal weather events. Visitors know it from walking the Gloucester Harbor Walk, which illustrates 42 amazing stories of the city’s artistic and industrial history. From its marine railways, which pull ships from the water for repair or maintenance; to Breakwater, a granite beacon built in 1905 to intercept waves during life-threatening storms, this community is built on a physical resilience unmatched in similar towns.

Gloucester may be small and historic, but it now leads in many types of infrastructure that modern cities depend on. Learn about another small town making a big splash in the environmental industry here.

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