“Historically, super-tall buildings have focused on structural challenges . . .
The rules have changed,
and energy has become the defining problem for our generation.” —Scott Duncan of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
The challenges, solutions, and opportunity exist for Boston to pivot now from its fossil-fueled past and lead the transition to clean energy; this means moving our building designs into the 21st century through a relentless focus on efficiency and cost-effective switches from gas and other fossil fuels to clean, electricity-based heating/cooling. The Boston Clean Energy Coalition (BCEC) brings together member organizations and allies in the shared commitment to accelerate this shift away from natural-gas–driven energy in Boston’s buildings and toward construction fueled by renewables. Meeting this goal requires collaboration among all of Boston’s sectors: developers, elected officials, labor, investors, utilities, neighborhoods, faith-based groups, academia, environmentalists, and others. By providing an organizing space that fosters this process and promotes this collaboration, BCEC looks to spur innovative and transformational public policy that unwaveringly focuses on a green and clean future.
On May 15 Councilor Matt O’Malley—chair of the Committee on the Environment, Sustainability, and Parks—held the second working session to craft an ordinance that will move new buildings in Boston toward net-zero carbon. BCEC is working closely with Councilor O’Malley on this effort.
Back in October 2017, the City Council voted unanimously to authorize Boston to adopt Community Choice Energy (CCE). CCE would allow for bulk purchasing of electricity for all residents, which would mean negotiating lower rates and more renewables. Implementation in the dozens of other towns in Massachusetts who have CCE took between three and ten months. In Boston, however, six months later, the Environment Department has not formed a CCE Advisory Committee, hired an energy consultant, or issued an RFP to solicit pricing. Instead, implementation has been put on hold.
Attorney General Maura Healey filed a brief on Tuesday, Jan. 23, regarding National Grid’s request for approval of a special contract with luxury-real-estate developer One Dalton LLC. recommending that the state’s Department of Public Utilities (DPU) deny the request. The requested deal constituted a price break for One Dalton on a gas main and also allowed for the developer to avoid energy-efficiency charges. Healey cited that such a contract would “set a precedent that would allow customers with the greatest economic resources to avoid paying their full capital investment obligations and obtain special distribution rates at the expense of other customers.”
Since the “Walk for Renewables” on August 1, 2016, which took place along the route of the proposed Back Bay/South End gas pipeline, BCEC has been working to make residents aware of this fossil-fuel project, gain information and details about the extent of the project, delay PIC permitting of the project at least until a robust community process is held, and ultimately stop the pipeline from being built because the City will never meet its carbon neutral goals by constructing more gas pipelines such as this one.
The City of Boston agreed to hold a meeting with representatives from National Grid to discuss the pipeline project on January 16. More than 150 environmental advocates, area residents, elected officials representing the Back Bay/South End, reporters, and others attended. For news reports about the meeting, click “Read More” below.
Climate Push Must Include Goals for Green Buildings It was heartening to see that the Globe’s editorial board is determined to “strengthen our blue bulwark’’ as a counterweight to the insanity of the Trump administration. Under criteria, you list climate change as number one, and promise to push for the transition away from natural gas toward renewables, which is commendable. Unfortunately you fail to include goals for the built environment. . . .
Public testimony from Michael McCord, Chair, Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay Green Committee, presented at the Boston City Council Hearing on Net-Zero-Carbon New Buildings (Dec. 11, 2017): “. . . It is, in my view, morally unconscionable that the city of Boston is poised to allow new buildings to be constructed that will substantially add to Greenhouse Gases. . .” Click “Read More” below for full testimony
Testimony from Martin Roetter, Chair, Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay, presented at the DPU hearing on the approval of a service agreement between National Grid and One Dalton (Dec. 15, 2017): “. . . Sensible decisions and practical compromises can only be achieved if they are based on an understanding of the costs to all of us taking into account the public interest as well as the interests of those directly involved in investments in fracked gas and their users. . .” Click “Read More” below for full testimony