Developing carbon targets for existing large buildings
Most of Boston’s carbon pollution comes from the oil and gas we burn to heat and power our homes and offices. A couple thousand of our largest buildings account for nearly half of Boston’s carbon emissions. Our current policies cover buildings over 35,000 square feet. That’s the equivalent of a 35-unit residential building.
How would the standard work?
The City of Boston is looking to set carbon emission targets for large buildings, from offices to apartment blocks to labs. Buildings will be required to meet targets that put them on track to the citywide goal of carbon neutrality by 2050.
There are two basic ways to reduce carbon pollution from large buildings:
- Update buildings so they need less energy. A range of best practices and technologies exist to reduce energy needs from:
- heating and cooling
- heating water
- operating equipment, and
- Power buildings with clean energy. Moving away from oil and gas to clean energy sources, like solar and wind power, eliminates carbon pollution. Clean energy is becoming more and more affordable each day.
Living and working in healthier buildings
Cutting carbon pollution in large buildings will increase air quality.
Lower utility bills
Energy efficiency measures help reduce energy use.
Construction and energy job opportunities
The work to make our buildings healthier and efficient will create new, green job opportunities.
Timeline for policy development
Policy development process
The City convened a Technical Advisory Group and a Resident Advisory Group to help shape Boston's performance standard.TECHNICAL ADVISORY GROUP
We worked with Synapse Energy Economics to develop carbon targets, decarbonization pathways and analyze costs.
We partnered with One Square World and Alternatives for Community and Environment to center potentially impacted communities in the policy design process. Residents living in large buildings were convened in a Resident Advisory Group.
In 2020 and early 2021, we convened a series of open houses to provide you an opportunity to participate in the policy's development.Open House #1: Wednesday, July 29, 2020, 6 - 7:30 p.m. Open House #2: Monday, September 28, 2020, 6 - 7:30 P.M. Open House #3: Thursday, November 19, 2020, 6 - 7:30 P.M. Open house #4: TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 2021, 6 - 7:30 P.M.
Our carbon neutrality goal
Our goal is to make Boston carbon neutral by 2050. The City is doing our part to keep Boston healthy and lessen the impact of climate change. In 2019, a community working group proposed that we develop a new policy that requires large buildings to cut carbon pollution over time.
We are working together to take meaningful action to reduce our city’s largest source of carbon pollution. We can create a community that is providing for the health and safety of near and future generations.
Some large building owners are already moving forward with retrofits that cut carbon emissions. These include projects like:
- deep energy retrofits that cut energy use in half, and
- electrification of all building systems.
We will publish case studies on an ongoing basis. Have you taken steps to decarbonize your building? Let's develop a case study together!
Dive into the data
Large buildings submit this data in accordance with the Building Energy Reporting and Disclosure Ordinance (BERDO). The City releases the full dataset each year on Analyze Boston, the City’s open data platform:
Synapse Energy Economics developed carbon targets and building pathways using BERDO data. Synapse also used data and expert feedback shared by members of the Technical Advisory Group members. The final report includes an overview of the technical methods and key inputs used in the:
- in-depth building energy and emissions analysis
- policy development, and
- estimation of cost impacts for the building emissions performance standard.
The City of Boston analyzed Boston’s buildings to understand their ability to cut carbon emissions. To do so, we worked with the Building Electrification Initiative and the Cadmus Group. The inventory compiles information on all buildings in Boston, including information on:
- wall types
- roof types
- heating systems, and
- much more.
Using this inventory and assumptions from building experts, they identified retrofit strategies for multifamily buildings. Building owners can use this analysis to inform their retrofit strategies.
Energy efficiency resources for large buildingsResources
The Hub is a one-stop shop for large- and medium-sized Boston buildings to connect with energy efficiency services and technical support. The Hub is a partnership between the City of Boston and Eversource.
Our goal is to help large building owners and operators, as well as tenants. We want to reduce your energy use and carbon emissions while saving you money. The Hub will help you find the best solutions for your building.
We'll help you understand, access, and put in place Eversource’s energy efficiency services and incentives. These include:
- comprehensive planning services and support specific to your building
- expert guidance, including a dedicated Eversource Energy Efficiency consultant team, vendor referrals, and specialized building technologies
- energy efficiency offerings and incentives tailored to your building type and size, and
- Building Operator Certification training classes for your staff.