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Boston municipal buildings target carbon neutrality

Following an executive order, building construction must be low-energy and fossil-fuel-free, while meeting annual energy needs from a mix of on- and off-site renewable energy assets.

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Boston continues to be ranked as one of the most energy-efficient cities in the country
Boston continues to be ranked as one of the most energy-efficient cities in the country

All new municipal buildings in the US city of Boston must target a zero net carbon standard, following an executive order signed by mayor Martin Walsh.

 

City-owned buildings account for nearly three-quarters of carbon emissions from local municipal operations, according to the city’s greenhouse gas inventory. The executive order requires building construction to be low-energy and fossil-fuel-free, while meeting annual energy needs from a mix of on- and off-site renewable energy assets.

 

Driving down emissions

 

Mayor Walsh is committed to making Boston one of the world’s leading cities when it comes to climate action and the latest move aims to keep the city on track to meet the goals outlined in its 2019 Climate Action Plan, as well as the Paris Agreement.

 

Boston is driving down emissions and preparing for sea-level rise, extreme temperatures and storms through the Carbon Free Boston and Climate Ready Boston initiatives. At the same time, it continues to be ranked the most energy-efficient city in the country, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy’s 2019 City Clean Energy Scorecard.

 

The ranking highlights programmes such as Renew Boston Trust and Boston’s long-standing Building Energy Reporting and Disclosure Ordinance (BERDO), which requires building owners in the city to understand their energy use and work towards increasing energy efficiency.

 

"While national action is at a standstill, cities like Boston are leading with plans, solutions and results."

 

“Climate change is the defining challenge of our time,” said Walsh. "As a coastal city, Boston is at the frontline of this global crisis, and we understand the urgency. While national action is at a standstill, cities like Boston are leading with plans, solutions and results. The 2019 update to our Climate Action Plan is our roadmap to carbon neutrality, and this executive order is the first in a series of steps we’ll be taking to implement this critical plan."

 

Continued progress

 

Boston has already worked hard to reduce its buildings’ footprints, with emissions from local municipal operations 41 per cent lower in fiscal year 2017 than 2005 levels, exceeding Walsh’s 2020 goal. Renew Boston Trust, a programme which currently implements energy-saving projects and retrofits in existing city-owned buildings, also contributes to Boston’s continued progress.

 

Projects are underway at 14 municipal buildings across Boston, including libraries, community centres, and police and fire stations.

 

New municipal projects will be designed to be highly energy-efficient and optimise on-site renewable energy while prioritising fossil-fuel-free combustion. Mechanical systems will be designed to accommodate anticipated changing climate conditions, including sea-level rise, more intense storms, and increased precipitation to ensure resilience.

 

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