Boston Is the Latest City to Request Energy- and Water-use Reporting

Mayor Thomas M. Menino has announced the filing of the Building Energy Reporting and Disclosure Ordinance with the Boston City Council. As a component of the city’s climate action plan to meet Mayor Menino’s greenhouse-gas-reduction goals, the ordinance would require all large- and medium-sized buildings to report annual energy and water use, as well as greenhouse-gas emissions tracked through Energy Star Portfolio Manager to the city of Boston Environment Department. The city would then make energy and water use per square foot, Energy Star ratings, greenhouse-gas emissions, and other identifying and contextual information for individual buildings available online. The proposed ordinance is intended to encourage building owners to participate in local utility energy-efficiency programs and educate tenants on building performance.

“In order for Boston to continue to be a sustainability leader, our buildings must aggressively invest in energy efficiency,” Mayor Menino says. “Bostonians demand buildings with high performance and this ordinance will encourage building owners to meet that demand.”

Major cities across the country have already adopted similar ordinances, including Minneapolis; New York; San Francisco; Seattle; and Washington, D.C. Lessons learned from these cities have informed the ordinance proposed by Mayor Menino.

“The Building Energy Reporting and Disclosure Ordinance follows the principal of what gets measured gets managed,” says Brian Swett, chief of Environment and Energy. “Through measurement and transparency the ordinance will encourage cost-effective building investments in energy and water efficiency that will improve building performance, save money and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.”

Since fall of 2012, the city has been conducting extensive outreach to a wide variety of building owners, industry organizations and other stakeholders to craft the ordinance. In particular, Environment and Energy Services is working with local utilities to help develop a process that simplifies whole-building data collection and reporting.

Leading by example, Boston would annually disclose its energy and water use in all of its facilities starting with 2012 building data. In following years, the ordinance would apply to non-residential buildings greater than 25,000 square feet and residential buildings 25 units or more. The proposed roll out schedule for reporting requirements is as follows:

  • Non-residential buildings 50,000 square feet or more in 2014
  • Residential buildings with 50 units or more in 2015
  • Non-residential buildings 25,000 square feet or more in 2016
  • Residential buildings with 25 units or more in 2017

In addition to reporting energy and water use, buildings may be required to conduct energy audits or other evaluations every five years to identify opportunities for energy-efficiency investments. Buildings in the top tier of energy performance or already taking significant efficiency actions will be exempted from this requirement.

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions through investments in energy efficiency is the largest component of the Mayor’s Climate Action Plan. Mayor Menino has established Boston as a national leader in reducing greenhouse-gas emissions and promoting a clean-energy economy through initiatives, such as Renew Boston and the first in the nation green building standards for private developments. To further inspire action, Mayor Menino has launched Greenovate Boston, a new sustainability movement to ensure a greener, healthier and more prosperous future for the city.

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