BCEC Letter to the Editor of the Boston Globe

Full text of letter as published on July 23, 2017:

While we appreciate the Globe’s running an article on the energy efficiency, or lack thereof, inherent in the current use of glass envelopes for high-rise buildings in Boston (“It’s all too clear,” Ideas, July 16), the article dances around the true issue. Glass facades may be a symptom, but they are not the root problem. As Courtney Humphries points out, buildings are responsible for at least 45 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. Thus, the focus needs to be on how to reconcile the surge in large developments with Mayor Walsh’s stated climate goal of being carbon neutral by 2050.

Pointing to the inefficiency of glass envelopes misses the point. The goal is to get to a decarbonized future, and today’s buildings need to anticipate that. This means a full planning process that specifies and requires not only energy-efficient building materials and systems but also the ability to move away from all fossil fuels and toward net-zero carbon buildings — meaning electricity-ready at the very least so that all power for heating and cooling can come from renewable energy sources.

Boston forfeits all hope of meeting any climate-change-fighting goals if its new buildings continue apace employing fossil fuels and expanding our natural gas infrastructure in order to do so.

Rickie Harvey, Jamaica Plain
James O. Michel, Hyde Park
The writers are members of the Boston Clean Energy Coalition.