The Government Operations Committee of the Boston City Council held two meetings in August to refine proposed amendments to the Building Energy Reporting and Disclosure Ordinance (BERDO). In a working session on Monday, August 23, councilors conferred with Mariama White-Hammond, Boston’s Chief of Environment, Energy, and Open Space (EEOS), and Alison Brizius, Commissioner of the Environment Department. Councilors Matt O’Malley, Lydia Edwards, and Julia Mejia participated throughout the livestreamed session. (Initial trouble with the livestream link, plus a format which showed only the active speaker, made it unclear whether or not other councilors were observing.)
Councilors and EEOS staff were in agreement about requiring Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) to be Class I and disallowing offsets for non-electricity-related emissions. Most also agreed that Review Board members must have relevant technical expertise, as well as being nominated by community groups in two-thirds of cases.
The Review Board’s set of responsibilities was also raised at a virtual discussion session on Thursday, August 26, where the public was invited to offer opinions and concerns. Whereas the proposal gives the board the authority to enforce penalties for non-compliant owners, groups representing the real estate industry argued that this function should rest with the Environment Department. BCAN disagrees. The proposal gives building owners time to prepare for retrofits, ways to apply for exceptions in special circumstances, and alternative compliance payments to cover over-limit emissions that remain despite honest efforts. Owners who take the standards seriously should not fear accountability to a knowledgeable community board.
The next step in the BERDO process will be a second working session on Monday, September 13, at 10:30 AM.