About the Office of Sustainability and Environment (OSE)

The mission of the Office of Sustainability & Environment (OSE) is to implement strategies that continually improve the environmental performance of Somerville city government and the community. OSE's objective is to make Somerville a leader in reducing energy usage and costs, minimizing environmental impacts and waste, and addressing global climate change, resulting in a healthy and enjoyable environment for the residents of Somerville.

  • SustainaVille

  • Somerville Waste Wizard

  • Home Composting

  • Past Projects

Thumbnail preview of sustainaville.com
Visit the City's SustainaVille website to:

  • Learn about Somerville GreenTech pilot programs
  • View our Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) Plan 
  • Find out about the Solarize Somervill program
  • And more

SomervilleMA.gov/SustainaVille

View the Somerville Waste Wizard to:

  • Find out how to recycle waste in Somerville
  • Look up your trash, recycling, and yard waste schedule
  • Get tips on safely disposing of hazardous waste
  • And more

SomervilleMA.gov/Wizard

The City of Somerville is now offering a Tumbler composter to residents for a cost of $90. Not only does the Tumbler allow residents to reduce food waste and create rich soil, its design keeps compost material away from rodents.


The Tumbler composter features a large compost chamber that sits on top stand legs and can be rotated (or 'tumbled') with hand grips.
Description (from Home Depot):

This unique tumbling composter features two chambers fill one side, while the other side cures, making it easy to efficiently convert your kitchen and yard waste into rich soil enhancing compost. Just load it up, close the sliding door and use the convenient built- in hand holds to give it a turn every couple days and see how it produces finished compost in weeks. The tumbling composter is made with recycled, UV inhibited, black plastic which absorbs heat and is designed to be rodent-proof. Help divert waste from landfill or costly processing and turn your own organic waste into compost in your own backyard.

  • Easy turn barrel with convenient built-in hand holds
  • Made from durable, UV resistant plastic with recycled content and includes a strong steel frame, which will last for many years
  • Adjustable air vents
  • Rodent resistant
  • Space efficient size with 5 cu. ft. or 140 liter capacity
  • Made in North America

Compost bins  are available for purchase at the DPW, 1 Franey Road, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. You need to pay $90.00 either by check or money order in the name of "City of Somerville." We cannot accept cash.

EMPACT Project

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) awarded $363,257.00 of funds to the City of Somerville, Massachusetts, to develop a Mystic River water quality monitoring and public education project, known commonly as Environmental Monitoring for Public Access and Community Tracking (EMPACT).  This project was pursued, developed, and completed in collaboration with Tufts University and Mystic River Watershed Association.

Data was collected at five different locations at Mystic River and Alewife Brook.  Based on the collected data and weather parameters, a mathematical model was developed to predict the water quality for boating and swimming as defined by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.  All real-time information was made available during late spring, summer, and early fall for two consecutive years, by way of an interactive website both in English and Spanish.


Green Building Educational Project

The Office of Sustainability and Environment, in collaboration with Massachusetts Alliance of Portuguese Speakers (MAPS), developed a bilingual educational material to educate homeowners about "green building concepts" in remodeling, renovating or simply maintaining their houses. In a broader concept of 'green buildings,' the educational material developed provided information related to use of alternative building material with fewer toxic chemicals and more energy conservation features.

Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) at University of Massachusetts, Lowell funded this project.


Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventory Project

Greenhouse gas emissions inventories were conducted for the City of Somerville at both the municipal operations level (based on FY 1999) and the community level (based on 1997).  Base years were chosen as the earliest years for which a significant amount of accurate data was available. The forecast year for both inventories was 2010.  Data on transportation, energy use, and solid waste production was gathered from a variety of sources including municipal departments, local utilities, and state and federal agencies.

This data was entered into software provided by the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) to compute total community and municipal greenhouse gas emissions (as CO2 or Carbon Dioxide equivalent) in Somerville.


Solar Panels on City Buildings

The City of Somerville has installed a number of photovoltaic (PV) solar systems on buildings all around the City, reducing the impact of City operations on the environment. The City is continuing these efforts with the Solarize Summer program, which makes it easier for residents to bring solar power to their own homes.


Stormwater Asset Management

In order to implement a successful stormwater management plan and to eliminate (or reduce) non-point source pollution from Somerville, the City developed an in-house asset management and environmental accounting system for storm water utilities. This system developed a Geographic Information System (GIS) layer of stormwater utilities and Best Management Practices to track problems, solutions, implementations, and corrective actions. Special consideration was given to trees and greenery in the City to analyze and understand their utility as Best Management Practice (BMP) to reduce stormwater and pollution in general. Public educational material was developed and mailed to all residents and provided on the City's website.