On November 19 Councilor Matt O’Malley held a (virtual) Boston City Council hearing to revisit previous efforts to promote net-zero-carbon (NZC) requirements for all new buildings as the city continues to undergo its second-largest development boom in history. Much has changed in the intervening three-plus years since Councilor O’Malley—with the support of BCEC—first raised the need to focus on reducing emissions from buildings (responsible for more than 70% of Boston’s GHG emissions) if the city is going to meet its carbon-neutral goals. To enumerate these changes:
—First, the Carbon Free Boston Summary Report was released in January 2019, and it stresses that all buildings must be NZC.
—Subsequently, the City updated its Climate Action Plan (CAP) later that year, and it, too, acknowledged this necessity.
—Finally, in September of 2020, the administration’s Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) launched its Zero Net Carbon Building Zoning Initiative via a virtual “public” community meeting.
Now, as we turn the corner into 2021, the City Council is less forging the way than supporting the efforts under way by the City’s Environment Department and BPDA. We look to the Council to focus on equity, accountability, and transparency that needs to come from the administration’s efforts in regard to limiting the GHG emissions from buildings. While BCEC laments the many months and millions of square feet of gas-fueled construction that have occurred since first partnering with Councilor O’Malley to push for NZC construction requirements, it is still important for the Council to stay involved in the work that lies ahead and exercise its crucial oversight role on the community’s behalf.