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How to complete an Energy Action and Assessment

Boston’s large- and medium-sized buildings must complete an energy assessment or major energy action every five years. This is a requirement of the Building Energy Reporting and Disclosure Ordinance (BERDO).

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Step
1

Review requirements for an energy action

Every year, large- and medium-sized buildings report their annual energy and water use. This is a requirement of the Building Energy Reporting and Disclosure Ordinance (BERDO). Unless you receive an exemption, the due date for completing an Energy Action is on May 15 in the fifth year that your building is covered by BERDO. Please review this list to confirm your due date.

When you complete an Energy Action report, we compare the energy data for your building over the previous five years. To complete a report, you must show one of the following improvements over the five-year time period:

A reduction by at least 15 percent or more of your building’s annual:

  • energy usage
  • energy use intensity
  • annual greenhouse gas emissions, excluding changes to the electricity grid, or
  • greenhouse gas intensity, excluding changes to the electricity grid.

Or, an improvement of your Energy Star rating by at least 15 points.

We only include renewable energy that a building buys or installs on its own in greenhouse gas emissions calculations. Renewable energy added to the electrical grid outside of a building's control does not count. For this reason, greenhouse gas electricity coefficients in Energy Star Portfolio Manager are held constant from the base year of the City's calculations.

There are many ways to achieve these benchmarks through:

  • energy efficiency improvements
  • on-site renewable energy projects, or
  • off-site renewable energy purchases.

We measure your building based on your annual BERDO energy data submissions. We also review supporting documents.

Extensions

Please note: we use your fifth-year BERDO submission to judge whether or not you’ve met these requirements. If you find out that you’ll fall short, you can request an extension. The extension can only last for six months after the May 15 deadline. We also require that your building must show compliance through another pathway. You can email energyreporting@boston.gov to request an extension.

Step
2

Review your options and data

If you’re looking for ways to achieve the 15 percent or 15-point goal, consider these options for your building:

Complete energy efficiency projects that reduce annual energy use intensity by at least 15 percent. This includes:

  • building upgrades or changes in operations
  • maintenance, and
  • behavior.

Connect to a district steam or district cogeneration network. Look for results that achieve at least a 15 percent reduction in your building’s annual greenhouse gas emissions.

Install renewable energy on-site. Look to increase the supply of renewable energy by at least 15 percent of annual energy consumption.

Buy energy from sources off-site that generate renewable electricity or lower carbon fuels. Aim to reduce the annual greenhouse gas emissions of the building by 15 percent. Renewable energy credits are acceptable. Note: changes in the regional electrical grid’s emissions don’t count.

Include the building in an institutional master plan and a corresponding energy management plan. The institution must also show an overall energy use or greenhouse gas emissions reduction of at least 15 percent over 5 years.

You can also undertake a combination of the actions listed above. Whatever options you choose, the goal is always to either:

  • reduce your greenhouse gas emissions or energy use intensity by 15 percent, or
  • increase your building’s Energy Star score by 15 points.
Step
3

Submit an Energy Action report

To show that your building is compliant, you must complete a report online and submit it to the City. Remember to include the supporting documents we request. Note: you’ll need a Google account to access the form. If you don’t have a Google account, you can set one up for free.

Energy Action Report form

Certifying your report

A qualified energy professional must certify your report. That person needs to meet these requirements:

At least two years of experience performing building energy efficiency assessments and at least one of the following qualifications:

  • American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Building Energy Assessment Professional
  • ASHRAE High Performance Building Design Professional
  • Association of Energy Engineers Certified Energy Manager
  • Association of Energy Engineers Certified Energy Auditor

That person can also be a Licensed Professional Engineer with at least one of the following qualifications:

  • Two years experience performing building energy audits
  • For residential buildings only, a Building Performance Institute Multifamily Building Analyst
Step
1

Review requirements for an energy assessment

Every year, large- and medium-sized buildings report their annual energy and water use. This is a requirement of the Building Energy Reporting and Disclosure Ordinance (BERDO). Unless you receive an exemption, the due date for completing an Energy Assessment is on May 15 in the fifth year that your building is covered by BERDO. Please review this list to confirm your due date.

If you choose to pursue the energy assessment option as your compliance pathway, you need to perform an energy audit. The audit needs to take place within the five-year time period before the fifth-year deadline.

Keep in mind:
  • Is your building above or equal to 50,000 square feet? You must complete an ASHRAE Level 2 Audit or equivalent assessment.
  • Is your building below 50,000 square feet? You may complete an ASHRAE Level 1 Audit or equivalent assessment.
  • Did you perform an alternative energy assessment or audit to ASHRAE? Complete the alternative assessment form. Remember to include the supporting documents we ask for. Alternative assessment approval is determined by the Air Pollution Control Commission. Once an alternative assessment is approved, all other BERDO buildings can utilize it as a compliance path. Note: you’ll need a Google account to access the form. If you don’t have a Google account, you can set one up for free.
Step
2

Complete your audit

Your audit must be performed or supervised by a qualified energy professional. That person needs to meet these requirements:

At least two years of experience performing building energy efficiency assessments and at least one of the following qualifications:

  • American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Building Energy Assessment Professional
  • ASHRAE High Performance Building Design Professional
  • Association of Energy Engineers Certified Energy Manager
  • Association of Energy Engineers Certified Energy Auditor

That person can also be a Licensed Professional Engineer with at least one of the following qualifications:

  • Two years experience performing building energy audits
  • For residential buildings only, a Building Performance Institute Multifamily Building Analyst
Step
3

Submit your audit to the City

After you finish your audit, please complete our online form. Remember to include all supporting documents, including:

  • a list of recommended energy conservation measures, and
  • their expected energy savings and payback period from the audit or assessment.

To provide a list of energy conservation measures, you can submit a copy of your audit report or complete our energy conservation measure reporting form

Note: you’ll need a Google account to access the online form. If you don’t have a Google account, you can set one up for free.

Energy Assessment form

Step
1

Make sure your building qualifies

Buildings that are highly efficient can get an exemption from the Energy Assessment and Action requirement. Highly efficient buildings include:

  • Buildings that have earned EPA Energy Star certification for at least three of the past five years.
  • Buildings that have received certification or re-certification at the Silver level or higher under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system. Such buildings must have achieved at least 15 points in the Energy and Atmosphere rating category.
  • The building is a zero-net energy or carbon free building. These buildings generate or use an amount of renewable energy and fuel equal to what it consumes in the course of a year.
Step
2

File for an efficiency exemption

You’ll need to complete our online form to confirm your exemption. Remember to include all supporting documents. Note: you’ll need a Google account to access the form. If you don’t have a Google account, you can set one up for free.

Highly efficient exemption form

Need to Know:

The due date for completing an Energy Assessment or Action is May 15 five years after your building is first covered by BERDO. Unless you receive an exemption, you are required to complete an Energy Assessment or Action. Please review this list to confirm when your first due date is.


Re-submitting your data

Before submitting an Energy Action and Assessment Report, you need to have reported your data to BERDO for the previous five years. Remember to review your Energy Star Portfolio Manager account. Need to re-submit your BERDO data? Please use these reporting links:


VARIANCE REQUEST

If your building has unique characteristics that prevented you from meeting the exact requirements of BERDO — but you have made progress in meeting its overall goals — you can request a one-time variance.

Please fill out an Energy Action and Assessment variance request form. You must provide details on how your building has worked to meet the spirit of BERDO. These variances are not precedent setting. Their approval is also at the discretion of the City of Boston.

Have questions? Contact:

Office hours

Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.

If you're looking for more details, please review our printable how-to guide or our overview videos.

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