Mayor Walsh releases climate action plan
January 15, 2015
Mayor Martin J. Walsh today released the Greenovate Boston 2014 Climate Action Plan Update, taking steps to prepare the City of Boston for the impacts of climate change and celebrating the City’s progress towards reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 25 percent by 2020 and 80% by 2050.
"When we’re talking about the environment, we’re talking about economic development, social equity, public health and safety, and community engagement," said Mayor Walsh. "That’s why we bring an environmental mindset to everything we do. Everyone can help make Boston a greener city."
The Mayor will formally present the Plan along with members of the Climate Action Plan Steering Committee and welcome incoming Chief of Environment Energy and Open Space, Austin Blackmon on Thursday evening at 6:15 p.m. at Artists of Humanity in South Boston. The event will conclude with a performance by the local band, Guster. Under Mayor Walsh's leadership, the 2014 plan lays out a more robust climate preparedness strategy, building on prior reports with an enhanced focus on social equity, public health and safety, economic development and community engagement, and superior data and performance measurement.
For the first time, the Walsh Administration report sets sector-specific GHG and program participation targets, giving Boston residents, businesses, institutions, and government a clear sense of what is needed to achieve Boston’s 25 percent by 2020 GHG reduction goal. The report also takes a first look at what it will take to reach Boston’s longer-term goal of reducing emissions 80 percent by 2050, putting Boston on par with only a handful of cities around the world that are exploring such ambitious goals.
While the 2014 Plan sets ambitious community goals and targets, the City continues to lead by example. In 2014, the City announced it had reduced municipal GHG emissions by approximately 27%, meeting its 2020 goal of 25% seven years early. The City is now exploring a new 2020 goal. The Renew Boston Trust, which was announced in the Mayor’s Chamber of Commerce speech, will further help municipal buildings reduce energy consumption and cut costs.
"This is a bold climate action plan put forth by Mayor Walsh and the City which will require engagement by all of our citizens. The Steering Committee felt that, going forward, greater involvement by Bostonians was key in both the development and implementation of an aggressive climate action plan. All of us have a stake in the outcome, and all of us can make a difference", said Vivien Li, Co-Chair of the 2014 Climate Action Plan Steering Committee.
The City already has many initiatives underway to achieve its 2020 goals and targets, and is making significant progress (see attached infographic). For example:
Almost 36,000 home weatherizations, heating system replacements, and other home energy upgrades have been completed in Boston since 2009 and Boston will need another 36,000 by 2020 to reach the 8% Neighborhood sector GHG goal. The City is working with its partners to expand Renew Boston and other residential energy efficiency programs. For example, Renew Boston, in partnership with NSTAR and Mass Saves, recently launched a new website to connect Boston residents with home energy efficiency products, regardless of whether your rent or own, or the number of units in your building.
Solar generation eclipsed 11 MW in Boston in 2014. In addition to the plummeting cost of solar installation, City programs such as the new solar map and Race to Solar, which was recently extended until March 2015, are helping Boston reach the 2014 Climate Action Plan’s target of installing another 10 MW of commercial solar by 2020.
Co-generation, a means of local energy production that uses steam to generate both electricity and heat, is a key carbon reduction strategy within the Large Buildings and Institutions (LBI) section. The 2014 Plan sets a target of having 15% of energy use for the LBI sector come from co-generation. The City and Boston Medical Center were recently awarded a $3.6 million grant from the Commonwealth to build a new 2 MW co-generation plant that will provide local, clean energy for the hospital and help the hospital maintain its operations in the event of a power outage.
The Building Energy Reporting and Disclosure Ordinance (BERDO) is enabling the City to better understand commercial energy use and set specific energy targets along with better assistance and services to help business reduce their energy bills. The first year of reporting (2014) provided encouraging results, with a compliance rate of over 85% and initial data showing that Boston buildings have an average Energy Star score of 74, which is well above the national average. A full report with sector-level BERDO data will be release at the end of the month.
Vehicle fuel economy improvements, which are largely the result of new federal standards, are leading the reduction of emissions from the transportation sector, despite more jobs and vehicle miles traveled in Boston. As part of Go Boston 2030, the City’s mobility visioning and planning process, the City will set a Boston-specific fuel economy target, as well as strategies to help achieve it.
The Plan’s Climate Preparedness section continues to emphasize the need for regional collaboration. The Regional Climate Preparedness Summit, hosted by UMass-Boston this spring, will help catalyze these efforts. Local efforts include the Living with Water design competition, which is currently underway, and citywide efforts to coordinate resiliency planning through the new Chief Resilience Officer.
The Mayor has declared January 15th Guster Day in Boston to honor Guster's local roots and commitment to the environment.