BCEC Letter to the Editor of the Boston Globe, published January 13, 2018

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.

We are well launched into a building boom that aims to add 53,000 new units of residential housing by 2030, per the city’s Imagine Boston 2030 plans. But there is a big disconnect: Virtually all of this development is slated to be powered by natural gas. The Walsh administration recently approved a new 1.1-mile gas pipeline to feed luxury high-rises in the Back Bay. Why isn’t the Boston Planning & Development Agency requiring these structures to be net zero carbon? How can we become carbon neutral by 2050 if we keep expanding our carbon footprint?

We have the knowledge and innovative techniques within the architectural, engineering, development, and construction industries to create truly green buildings, and no, the LEED rating system, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, does not do enough in terms of curbing energy consumption. We need the Walsh administration to do its part, and the Globe has an opportunity to elevate the issue of the built environment as well.

James O. Michel
Hyde Park

The writer is a cofounder of the Boston Clean Energy Coalition.