“Monumental” Boston Decarbonization Ordinance Passed
On October 5th, Kim Janey, Boston’s acting mayor, signed the Building Energy Reporting and Disclosure Ordinance (BERDO). In a statement, Janey described the Boston decarbonization ordinance as “a monumental achievement that will have positive impacts on our residents for generations to come.” So, what does this new ordinance mean for building owners and managers in Boston, and how can they prepare their buildings to meet the requirements? We answer those questions below.
Boston Decarbonization Ordinance Requirements
Under the Boston decarbonization ordinance, by 2050 the city of Boston will require all buildings over 20,000 square feet to achieve net zero carbon emissions. The ordinance will impact approximately 4% of the city’s structures, including commercial and residential buildings that produce 60% of the city’s building emissions.
This is not the first Boston decarbonization ordinance. An earlier version of BERDO was implemented in 2020, requiring that all residential and nonresidential buildings 35,000 square feet and above report their annual water and energy usage from the previous year.
The Bigger Picture
In passing this latest version of BERDO, Boston joins many other cities and states working to combat climate change by reducing or eliminating emissions from buildings. Here’s just a few:
- In California, the cities of Berkeley, San Jose, and Oakland have put a limit on the natural gas infrastructure in newly constructed buildings. In August, The California Energy Commission voted change the state building energy efficiency standards to encourage the use of electric heat pumps over gas ones.
- Seattle updated its building code last year to ban fossil fuels for heating in new commercial and large multifamily construction.
- New York City passed Local Law 97 in 2019, which requires buildings in various segmented occupancy groups to comply with certain published emissions intensity limits per square foot.
- Chicago recently created a building decarbonization working group
- Colorado passed bill HB21-1286 in June 2021, which requires owners of large buildings to collect and report their building’s energy use on an annual basis to the Colorado energy office.
If your municipality or state has not yet passed building emissions regulations, expect them to come soon. That said, it’s wise to start preparing to monitor your energy use, reduce emissions, and the like.
How Building Owners and Managers Can Prepare
Moving toward full electrification and eliminating the use of fossil fuels means less greenhouse gas emissions and much more renewable energy use. Here’s how building owners and managers can prepare for both:
- Use energy management software to collect your energy and emissions data. Then analyze it to identify optimizations and efficiency projects that could improve your building’s energy efficiency.
- Implement said optimizations and efficiency projects, then measure and verify them to ensure they are effective.
- Implement energy optimization across your portfolio. This includes energy efficiency projects and fuel switching, i.e., switching to renewable energy across your portfolio as opposed to fossil fuels.
- Before you switch to renewable energy, make sure you understand the various challenges and solutions associated with energy procurement. You’ll also have to decide where you want to source your renewable energy from. To discover the different options, check out our Essential Guide to Procuring Renewable Energy.
How WatchWire Can Help
If all those steps sound like a lot to handle, don’t worry. WatchWire specializes in energy and sustainability management as well as renewable energy procurement. Everything we mentioned above, we can help your organization with! Discover all of WatchWire’s capabilities by downloading the Watchwire Fact Sheet.