Campaign for Net-Zero Carbon for New Boston Buildings: City Council Rollout

After a year-long process that included a public hearing with expert panelists and three public working sessions with numerous net-zero-carbon experts from fields of architecture, engineering, development, real estate law, academia, and others, Councilor Matt O’Malley on October 3 began the rollout of a policy portfolio of incentives to help move new buildings in Boston toward achieving NZC. The first two filings include:

Resolution (#1456) in Support of the 2018 International Green Construction Code (2018-IgCC); co-sponsored by Councilor Michelle Wu and unanimously supported by the City Council

An Order (#1457) Regarding a Text Amendment for Boston Zoning Code for Gross Floor Area; co-sponsored by Councilor Frank Baker and unanimously supported by the City Council

Councilor O’Malley indicated at the City Council session on Oct. 3 when he presented these filings that more would be coming in future weeks. Watch the video clip of Councilor O’Malley’s comments and presentation of these filings here.

Also on Oct. 3, WGBH ran a piece on the fact that one out of every five new buildings being built in Boston is not energy efficient and actually scores very low on that point. Listen to the WGBH piece here.

Background

Third NZC Working Session
In August 2018 Councilor Matt O’Malley—chair of the Committee on the Environment, Sustainability, and Parks—held the third and final working session on net-zero-carbon incentives for new buildings in Boston. At this session a dozen experts in attendance discussed the top 10 suggestions for incentives on the list produced at the second working session as prioritized via email prior to the meeting. These included the following:
—Use density bonuses as an incentive for new NZC buildings
—Lower current parking requirements for buildings
—Improve EUI reporting
—Use land-disposition process
—Create Net-Zero-Overlay District
—Follow Architecture 2030 program
—Hire an engineer to test energy models
—Convert to heat pumps
—Expedite permitting
—Change FAR definition to measure from internal wall
—Require eco roofs of various kinds

Second NZC Working Session
On May 15 Councilor Matt O’Malley held the second working session to craft an ordinance that will move new buildings in Boston toward net-zero carbon. We know that buildings account for more than half of all our greenhouse gas emissions and that if we are going to reach the Mayor’s stated goal of Boston’s being carbon neutral by 2050, we cannot fuel the buildings in the city’s third largest construction boom with gas. BCEC is working closely with Councilor O’Malley on this effort.

Moving new construction toward net-zero carbon means developing incentives and regulations now, with input from all stakeholders. Toward that end, Councilor O’Malley’s second public working session asked all participants (architects, engineers, real estate attorneys, and more) to put forward specific suggestions for NZC incentives and regulations. An excellent list resulted, and in the next working session the group will assess and evaluate these posited ideas. The desired goal is a City Council ordinance by the end of 2018 that establishes incentives and regulations for new buildings to be net-zero carbon. The final NZC working session will be in July or August, date TBD. These sessions are open to the public.

First NZC Working Session
In March 2018 Councilor O’Malley convened the first working session to continue the process of crafting an ordinance that will move new buildings in Boston toward net-zero carbon. The effort began last year with a Council hearing.

Moving new construction toward net-zero carbon means developing incentives and regulations now with input from all stakeholders. Toward that end, Councilor O’Malley’s public working sessions seek to include architects, engineers, professors, builders, developers, and real estate attorneys as well as representatives from the administration engaging in the process. Two future working sessions will build toward the goal of passing an ordinance by the end of 2018 that establishes incentives and regulations for new buildings to be net-zero carbon.

For more information on the NZC hearing and process, click here.