The Boston Climate Action Network is thrilled to celebrate another step forward in our ongoing efforts toward green, healthy, and affordable homes. Affordable housing building owners can now apply for up to $10,000 grants supporting deep energy retrofits and decarbonization thanks to a new program announced by Boston Mayor Michelle Wu. These funds will enable comprehensive energy assessments, aiding owners in improving building performance and achieving significant energy savings and carbon emission reductions. The program, funded through the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), empowers building owners to conduct comprehensive energy assessments, which serve as the initial step in improving energy efficiency and reducing carbon emissions.
For over a year, BCAN has been outspoken in our desire to see all homes in Boston eliminate fossil fuels to protect the health of our communities and our planet. However, it is critical we avoid “green gentrification,” or the rapid rise of rents and displacement resulting from clean energy renovations. We are glad to see this program focuses the funds on those who need help the most: our city’s lowest-income residents. BCAN Advocacy Director Hessann Farooqi celebrated the announcement, saying “I’m thrilled to see another step forward in getting funds to those who need it. I applaud Mayor Wu and her administration for funding this program. However, we need more funding to make every single building fossil fuel-free. That’s why we need to pass important state legislation, like the Zero Carbon Renovation Fund.”
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Last week, the Boston Climate Action Network held a series of focus groups to gather input from community members across the city to inform regulations on carbon emissions from buildings, as a part of our work on the Building Emissions Reduction and Disclosure Ordinance.
The Building Emissions Reduction and Disclosure Ordinance (BERDO) is a City of Boston law that reduces carbon emissions from the city’s largest buildings. It also requires building owners to report their emissions publicly. The Boston Climate Action Network helped to pass a strengthened version of this ordinance in 2021, ensuring there was real enforcement power by the City, protecting environmental justice communities, and requiring more buildings to be compliant with the law. Now, two BCAN members sit on the City of Boston’s Community Advisory Group on this ordinance to help inform the development of the regulations. These regulations fill in the details to implement the ordinance. These regulations will be finalized by the end of 2023 and will take effect at the start of 2024. To ensure the regulations meet the needs of our community, BCAN held focus groups to gather input from residents of buildings under the jurisdiction of BERDO. Such buildings contain 15 or more apartment units. We heard from residents from a variety of neighborhoods, including East Boston, Allston, Mission Hill, South Boston, and Jamaica Plain. This valuable feedback will be given back to the City of Boston, which will revise its regulations based on it. From there, the City will issue a report on how exactly they used community feedback. We’ll share more information about this once we have it.
If you’re interested in getting more involved with the writing of BERDO regulations, sign up to volunteer with BCAN.