Green Buildings

Deep Energy Retrofits for Boston’s Largest Buildings

Boston’s buildings are a significant source of the greenhouse gases (GHG) that cause climate change. In early 2019, the Carbon Free Boston study reported that over two-thirds of Boston’s GHG is produced by energy use within buildings, including heating, cooling, and powering other devices. Furthermore, over half of the emissions from buildings are produced by 3% of the building stock. In some properties, like hospitals, high emissions come from energy-intensive activities, but in others it comes from energy inefficiency caused by air leaks, inadequate insulation, or older equipment. Retrofitting the most wasteful buildings would go a long way toward meeting Boston’s carbon neutrality goal.

Boston Climate Action Network’s current campaign focuses on reducing carbon emissions from the city’s largest, most inefficient buildings. This effort is also a priority of the City’s Environment Department, as it seeks to translate the Carbon Free Boston findings into an actionable revision of Boston’s Climate Action Plan. BostonCAN is seeking ways that City policy can be changed to expedite building retrofits. For example, we advocate the strengthening of the Building Energy Reporting and Disclosure Ordinance (BERDO). Under the present law, the energy use of buildings over 35,000 square feet in size must be reported annually to the City, but the corrective action required by owners of high-GHG buildings is very limited. 

Our campaign activities to date have included the following:

  • Studying and disseminating information about building-focused climate solutions being implemented or considered by other cities, states, and countries
  • Sponsoring “A Discussion of Deep Energy Retrofits,” a panel presentation by three contractors with years of experience retrofitting homes and tracking energy use
  • Advocating for state legislation, such as a Net-Zero Building Stretch Code, that would facilitate building-related policy change in Boston
  • Participating in the City’s Climate Action Plan Update Working Group

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