BERDO Focus Groups: Discussions and Insights

In 2021, BCAN helped pass the Building Energy Reporting and Disclosure Ordinance (BERDO), a Boston-wide law that requires buildings to publicly report and reduce their emissions. Building emissions, caused by fossil fuels used for heating, cooling, and electricity, are responsible for 70% of Boston’s greenhouse gas emissions. BERDO aims to reduce building emissions in large buildings, attaining net zero emissions by 2050.  The City is now working on detailed regulations and policies that iron out the details for implementing BERDO.

Getting input from community members who will be impacted by BERDO is a key part of this process. The ordinance applies to different types of large buildings, both residential and non-residential (the full list of covered buildings is available here.) The City suggested holding community conversations to gather input from anyone who might be affected by BERDO, and BCAN chose to specifically invite residents of buildings covered by the ordinance. To this end, we led two community conversations about BERDO this past August. These focus groups had two goals: giving out information to community members who lived in BERDO-covered housing, and gathering their thoughts about the ordinance. We sent our findings to the City, and they will be combined with those from other conversations held by community organizations or by the City itself.

At the focus group which I observed, a few main points came up. The community members in attendance, who lived in different neighborhoods across Boston, felt enthusiastic and had a generally positive impression of BERDO. They anticipated that the ordinance, if correctly implemented, would result in improved air quality and help lessen the impact of climate change. Despite their optimism, many of them were concerned that BERDO regulations would result in increased rent and property taxes. Several in attendance wondered who they could contact for questions about BERDO, and it was unclear to some of them whether their building owners had been effectively notified that they needed to report their emissions.

Community members made it clear that good communication is needed between landlords and renters if BERDO is to be implemented. Some condo owners and board members also raised several potential issues that applied to their situation. Since condos are owned and shared by a number of individuals, sometimes including absentee owners who rent out their units, the residents were wondering if the regulations would clearly spell out who is responsible for reporting and managing building emissions. Some condos are run by a board of owners, by a management company, or by a single owner; some contain both market rate units and subsidized units. These differences also impact how buildings can address BERDO regulations.

Under BERDO, large buildings that do not follow the reporting guidelines and emissions regulations will be fined. This money will be pooled in the Equitable Emissions Investment Fund (EEIF), which will aim to support projects on emission reduction that directly benefit the Boston community. Community members in attendance suggested several requirements that they’d like to see for fund applicants. An attendee wished to see a list of vetted vendors that stick to certain environmental standards, and another suggested compiling a list of women- and minority-owned businesses. Air quality monitoring, preservation of green space, and effective communication with tenants were also brought up.

The City has held several working sessions on the regulations, and you can stay updated with the developments here. If you’d like to get involved with BCAN as the BERDO regulations are developed, sign up to volunteer with us.

Written by Michèle Duguay

Save Money On Energy With Our New Tool!

BCAN’s Housing Justice project is proud to unveil our database of Funding To Make Your Home Green And Healthy. We have compiled information on grants, loans, and tax credits that support repairs, upgrades, and retrofits. You can find what is available—from federal, state, and local governments, as well as private sources—to make it easier to afford insulation and weatherproofing, heat pumps and other efficient appliances, solar panels, and other improvements that make homes cleaner, safer, and more energy-efficient.

The database is aimed at homeowners, renters, owners of small multifamily properties, and nonprofit organizations in Boston. In keeping with BCAN’s core goals, we aim to reach residents of environmental justice communities, where the need for housing improvements is especially great. In fact, many of the programs give preference to these communities.

The information here will be updated as we learn more about these and other programs. In fact, major new programs funded by the federal Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 have yet to come online. We will add information about how to use them as it becomes available through state agencies or elsewhere. We welcome suggestions, additions, corrections, and comments via our Feedback Form.

Please share the database with family, friends, and neighbors. These programs are for all of us to make our homes better and to contribute to a healthier climate for all.

Check out the database now >>

Written By Brian Ladd

Building a Sustainable Future: Boston Adopts Climate-Friendly Stretch Code

The City of Boston has taken a significant step towards reducing its carbon footprint by opting-in to the stretch code. This decision was made after the Boston City Council voted in favor of adopting the new climate-friendly state building code, which includes the stretch code, on April 5, 2023.

The stretch code is an optional set of energy efficiency standards that municipalities can adopt to exceed the state’s building code requirements. It is designed to encourage energy-efficient building design and construction, which can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save energy and money for building owners and occupants. The Boston Climate Action Network and the Massachusetts Climate Action Network, alongside other groups, were instrumental in helping pass this code. Our efforts to raise awareness about the importance of adopting the stretch code helped make this decision possible. Taking this step has allowed the City of Boston to join a growing number of municipalities across the state that have already adopted the code. This decision is expected to have a significant impact on the city’s efforts to combat climate change and meet its carbon reduction goals.

According to Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, “Adopting the stretch code is an important step towards meeting our climate goals and ensuring that Boston remains a leader in sustainability. By promoting energy-efficient buildings, we can reduce our carbon footprint and create a healthier, more resilient city for all.” The stretch code includes a range of energy efficiency measures, such as increased insulation, high-performance windows, and efficient heating and cooling systems. It also requires the use of renewable energy sources, such as solar panels, to generate a portion of a building’s energy needs. One of the key benefits of the stretch code is that it can help lower energy bills for building owners and occupants. By incorporating energy-efficient design and construction practices, buildings can use less energy and therefore require less money to operate. In addition, the stretch code can help create jobs and support local businesses. The code can stimulate demand for products and services that help buildings meet the new standards. This can help create new jobs and business opportunities for local contractors, architects, and suppliers.

The City of Boston’s decision to opt-in to the stretch code is a significant step forward in its efforts to address climate change and promote sustainability. By adopting these new standards, Boston is demonstrating its commitment to creating a healthier, more resilient city for all.

Overall, the stretch code is an important tool for promoting energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the building sector. As more municipalities adopt this code, we can expect to see significant progress towards a more sustainable and resilient future for our city.

BCAN Takes to the Streets: Advocacy Director Speaks at Climate Protest

On March 3, 2023, Boston Common was the site of a powerful demonstration in support of action on climate change. Thousands of activists from across the city and beyond joined together to make their voices heard on this pressing issue. Among the groups participating in the march was the Boston Climate Action Network (BCAN), a local organization that has been working tirelessly to promote sustainability and reduce carbon emissions in the Boston area.

At the protest, BCAN Advocacy Director Hessann Farooqi took to the stage to address the assembled crowd. Farooqi spoke passionately about the urgent need for action on climate change and emphasized the role that local communities can play in driving change. “We need to act now, before it’s too late,” Farooqi said. “But we can’t do it alone. We need to work together, as a community, to make a real difference.”

Farooqi’s message resonated with the crowd, who responded with cheers and applause. Throughout the day, BCAN members marched alongside other activists, carrying signs and banners in support of the environment. Many held signs with messages like “Climate Justice Now” and “Act on Climate Before It’s Too Late”.

Participating in events like the March 3 Climate Protest is just one of the ways that BCAN is working to make a difference.

2022 recap, and support BCAN going into 2023!

Please join us in supporting Boston Climate Action Network in 2023 as we ramp up our campaigns for more sustainable schools and homes.

While 2022 was another challenging year for many of us, it also brought reasons to hope for a better climate future. This was the year Congress passed historic climate change legislation and Mayor Michelle Wu began laying the foundation for a Green New Deal for Boston. Now is the time, and Boston is the place, to win ambitious and pragmatic policies that set precedents that can be replicated throughout our state, region, and worldwide. 

We are a small and dedicated organization and we can win strong policies only with your help! Here are five reasons to get involved or DONATE NOW:

  1. We’re fighting for climate justice in Boston. In two new campaigns, we’re:
  1. We’re growing the movement and developing new climate leaders! This year, BCAN tripled our intern capacity and welcomed new board members, introducing new growth opportunities in campaign leadership, strategy, social media, and outreach. Looking to the future, we’re hoping to eventually build our staff capacity as well, but need all hands on deck to make that happen.
  1. Our network is expanding! For the first time, climate, housing, and schools activists are in the same rooms, breaking down thought barriers and opening up opportunities for systemic change. 
  1. We’re in it for the long haul. For over 20 years we’ve been building the climate justice movement in Boston, training activists, educating the public, and forming coalitions to achieve our goals. Our efforts have helped Boston become a nationwide climate leader with BERDO 2.0 and Community Choice Electricity providing blueprints for the country.
  1. We need you! We’re almost completely volunteer-based, and we rely heavily on donations to fund our campaigns. Anything that you can give us, whether it’s time or money, will make a big difference – every dollar and every hour counts.

Our climate is changing much faster than predicted. A dollar toward activism now can save hundreds of dollars of climate adaptation measures in the decades to come. We urge you to become a sustaining monthly donor to BCAN this year, or make the most generous annual donation your budget permits. Can we count on you?

2022 in pictures…

See all the highlights from 2022 below!

BERDO Victory Celebration!

In a ceremony held Tuesday, October 5, at City Hall, Mayor Kim Janey signed what appears to be the most sweeping climate action ordinance in the nation. Boston’s Building Emissions Reduction and Disclosure Ordinance (BERDO) mandates owners of large building to reduce climate-warming emissions 100% by 2050. To celebrate, we invite you to join us on Thursday, Nov. 4, from 5:30 – 7pm, across the street from City Hall at the outdoor, rooftop beer garden “Sam Adams Tap Room,” 60 State St, Boston, MA 02109. (Note that this is not the Sam Adams Brewery in Jamaica Plain.) RSVP for the party here.

The updated city ordinance sets carbon emissions limits for buildings 20,000 square feet or greater, a key strategy in Boston’s plan for a carbon-neutral city by 2050. The event was attended by the press and by members of community groups who had advocated for the amendments, BCAN included.

BCAN played a key role in ensuring passage of BERDO 2.0, building a coalition that included allies from the Green Justice Coalition and Boston Clean Energy Coalition, and turning out volunteers time and again throughout the almost two-year process. Since the May 2019 campaign launch, BCAN volunteers have created digital and print educational materials, giving dozens of presentations throughout the city, gathered petition signatures, and delivered substantive policy suggestions to City staffers working to craft the policy. In the final days before the City Council voted on the measure, we delivered over 2000 petition signatures, with more from our coalition partners, and generated 210 letters from constituents to the district and at-large City Councilors.

Boston is the first U.S. city to codify in law a decreasing set of emissions targets to achieve 100% decarbonization. Three other U.S. cities have adopted building performance standards that are less comprehensive. As pointed out by Synapse, the City’s technical consultant on the process of developing that set of targets, the City’s new policy “incorporates innovative and flexible strategies to help building owners drive down emissions, create benefits for occupants, and ensure smart oversight.” BERDO 2.0 establishes a review board staffed by community-nominated experts to enforce limits on climate-warming emissions from Boston’s biggest buildings, the source of the vast majority of emissions coming from Boston. Winning this policy change is a huge victory! 

For more coverage of the BERDO victory, click here and here.

Mayor Kim Janey signs BERDO! (photo courtesy of City of Boston)

City Council Hosts BERDO Working, Discussion Sessions

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. 

Boston: Divest from Fossil Fuels!

Congratulations to Boston City Councilors Lydia Edwards, Michelle Wu, and Matt O’Malley for having introduced on March 17 an ordinance that would divest City funds from the fossil fuel, tobacco, and private prison industries. As Councilor Edwards tweeted: “Boston has led on divestment before. It’s an effective strategy. We need to put our money where our mouth is.” You can view of video of the City Council meeting at The introduction of the proposal begins at 19:00.

All City Councilors except Councilor Baker signed on in support of the proposal during the City Council meeting.

If you live in Councilor Baker’s district, we urge you contact him in support of this divestment proposal: or 617-635-3455.

If you live elsewhere in Boston, check to see if your Councilor serves on the Committee on Government Operations and urge them to take urgent action to move this proposal forward.

The proposal can be found at on page 13.

The text is also copied below:


WHEREAS: The City of Boston exercises significant discretion in investments of the City Treasury; and

WHEREAS: Investments of the City Treasury carry significant exposure to fossil fuels; and

WHEREAS: Climate change is an existential threat, requiring mobilization across every sector of government and society; and

WHEREAS: The City of Boston and Commonwealth of Massachusetts have established strict greenhouse gas emission reduction goals in order to climate change; and

WHEREAS: In 2014 and 2019, the Council held hearings related to divestment from fossil fuels; and

WHEREAS: The Council has previously voted to support state legislation authorizing and directing pension fund investment; and

WHEREAS: In February 2019, the City of Boston updated its Cash Investment Policy to promote Environmental, Social and Governance standards in local investments; and

WHEREAS: The Boston City Council has taken local action to divest the City Treasury from tobacco, to promote human rights and to combat apartheid; and

WHEREAS: Additional measures to promote sustainability and socially responsible investment are necessary; NOW


Be it ordained by the City of Boston, as follows:

SECTION 1. The City of Boston Code, Ordinances, Chapter 6, Section 3, is hereby amended by striking section 6-3.7 and replacing it with the following:

6-3.7 Prohibiting Certain Local Investments

(a) No public funds under the care and custody of the Collector-Treasurer of the City of Boston, as specified in subsection 6-3.11, shall be invested or remain invested in the stocks, securities or other obligations of any company which derives more than fifteen (15%) percent of its revenue from the sale of tobacco products.

(b) No public funds under the care and custody of the Collector-Treasurer of the City of Boston, as specified in subsection 6-3.11, shall be invested or remain invested in the stocks, securities or other obligations of any company which derives more than fifteen (15%) percent of its revenue from the combustion, distribution, extraction, manufacture, or sale of fossil fuels, which shall include coal, oil and gas, or fossil fuel products. The Collector-Treasurer of the City of Boston shall divest public funds under their care from investments related to fossil fuels no later than December 31st, 2025.

An electric distribution company with corporate affiliates that combust, distribute, extract, manufacture or sell fossil fuels shall be considered a fossil fuel investment.

The Collector-Treasurer shall establish a screen for non-fossil fuel energy sources, including biomass energy, and related combustion activities, including incineration technologies such as gasification and pyrolysis, which have a deleterious impact on the human health and the environment by (1) negatively impacting climate change and/or (2) contributing to asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorders, cardiovascular diseases or premature death.

(c) No public funds shall be invested or remain invested in the stocks, securities or other obligations of any company which derives more than fifteen (15%) percent of its revenue from the operation, maintenance, servicing or supply of carceral facilities.

(d) Any proceeds of the sales required under this subsection shall be invested as much as reasonably possible in institutions or companies which invest or conduct business or operations in the City of Boston or the Commonwealth of Massachusetts so long as such use is consistent with sound investment policy.

SECTION 2. The City of Boston Code, Ordinances, Chapter 6, Section 3, is hereby amended by inserting after section 6-3.7 the following:


Report on Local Investment Within 120 days of enactment on this section, the Collector-Treasurer shall submit a report to the Boston City Council regarding the feasibility and legality of alternative investment strategies. Such report shall include:

● A review of the financial instruments and investments permitted for the city treasury

● A review of the financial instruments and investments permitted for the pension funds of the City of Boston and its affiliates

● An analysis of the feasibility and legality for the City of Boston to direct investment toward (1) land or housing; (2) community economic development, included in cooperative businesses and businesses that are not publicly traded through a stock market index; (3) public infrastructure within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; (4) public infrastructure outside of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. To the extent such investments are not directly permitted, the Collector-Treasurer shall investigate whether similar investments could be made through combined investment funds or banking or trust investments authorized by Section 55 of Chapter 44, Section 38A of Chapter 29, or other relevant sections of the General Laws.

● A review of any strategies the City currently employs to effectuate local investment

SECTION 3. This ordinance shall take effect upon signing.

Filed On: March 17, 2021

Summer Internship Opportunity

Application deadline: April 1

Boston Climate Action Network is accepting applications for a paid internship position, Outreach Organizer, to support our campaign to cut greenhouse gas emissions from Boston’s largest buildings. More than half of Boston’s greenhouse gas emissions come from the largest 3% of its buildings. We are working with allies to pass legislation to bring these buildings to net zero emissions by 2050.

The City Council will be actively debating our proposed legislation this summer. We need to build a volunteer base to advocate for our campaign in ways that resonate with the public. As the BCAN intern, you will help build our volunteer base in every City Council district, with training and support from BCAN staff and longtime volunteers.

At BCAN, we use phone, email, video conferencing, and, to the extent that it is COVID-safe, in-person canvassing and presentations to reach out to local communities, recruit new members, and build volunteers’ skills.  We will track the campaign’s progress through volunteer sign-up rates, petition signatures, and attendance at meetings with activists, the public, and political figures.

Essential qualities of successful applicants:

  • Familiarity with Boston’s neighborhoods
  • Ability to attend events at a variety of locations in Boston on a daily basis as needed
  • An understanding of climate justice and of the climate impacts affecting Boston residents
  • Ability to work well with volunteers with diverse communication skills
  • Effective public speaker

Helpful qualities:

  • Boston residency
  • Involvement in a community-based organization within the City of Boston
  • Fluency in Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese, or Cape Verdean or Haitian Creole

Hours are flexible with the expectation that you’ll work approximately 20-25 hours during the 9 to 5 weekday and approximately 10-15 hours during evenings and weekends. The start date is negotiable, but not earlier than May 1 and no later than June 15.

Applicants must supply their own computer and work space and be experienced with working remotely. Please indicate in your application your level of expertise with Google Docs and Sheets, Zoom, and Powerpoint.

Stipend: $16/hr, 35hrs/wk, 12wks. Deadline for applications: April 1. Send resume and cover letter to with the heading: Internship application. No phone calls please.

Donate to win big in 2021

You know the facts of climate change. You want to “fight like hell for the living,” as Mother Jones has told us. Boston Climate Action Network is leading the effort for city-level urgent and ambitious action on climate. Here are four reasons to join us in the fight and donate to make sure we win big in 2021. 

  1. We put our muscle where it makes a tangible impact. As residents of Boston, we know our City Councilors and Mayor listen to us. When we move City of Boston policy, that sets a precedent for the rest of New England. For example, soon Boston residents will have 10% more regionally produced renewable energy feeding into our electricity grid, for no extra cost, thanks to the BCAN-promoted Community Choice Electricity program.
  2. We focus on issues that take big bites of the climate apple. Our current campaign – Green Buildings, Not Greenhouse Gases – aims to radically reduce emissions from the biggest source of emissions in the city: large residential and commercial buildings.
  3. We know how to  network! There are countless groups in Boston working to solve various aspects of the climate crisis and the social crises that make climate issues so difficult to resolve. BCAN brings a social and political lens to climate organizing and builds networks for every campaign.
  4. We’re in it for the long haul. For 20 years we’ve been building the climate justice movement in Boston, training activists, educating the public with theater and song, and forming coalitions to achieve our goals. 

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, we remain strong. This year as policies to meet our 2030 and 2050 goals are battled out in city hall and in community forums, BCAN will continue to push the envelope. The transition to low-carbon heating and high efficiency buildings will not happen unless activist groups like BCAN turn out residents to demand ambitious measures. 

Boston will also be choosing a new Mayor in 2021. The verbiage will be flying and BCAN will be there to parse the routine ideas from the truly innovative. You count on BCAN to alert you to Boston’s climate news every two weeks and to the moments when you need to show up so City Hall understands the force of people’s desire for urgent climate action.

Can we count on you to support the key role BCAN plays in leveraging Boston as a climate leader nationwide? Please become a sustaining donor this year if you do, or make the most generous annual donation your budget permits. 

Our climate is changing exponentially fast, and a dollar toward activism now can prevent having to spend hundreds of dollars for climate adaptation measures in the decades to come.

Thank you for your support!

Loie Hayes, Natasha Khatri, Judith Kolligian, Stephanie Komorowski, Terry Mason, Michael Weinstein, and Andy Wells-Bean
BCAN Board of Directors and Campaign Coordinator

PS: To donate, you can mail a check to: BCAN, POBox 300984, Boston, MA 02130;
To make a tax-deductible contribution online:

  • Go to the New England Grassroots Environmental Fund website,
  • Fill in your contact information and preferred contribution, then scroll down to “Program”
  • Click on “Fiscal Sponsored Group”
  • Write in “Boston Climate Action Network”