Whenever we talk to neighborhood associations or developers or others about building proposals and advocate for all-electric net-zero-carbon construction, everyone’s first question is always, “How much extra will it cost?” This important and highly anticipated report just released from the Massachusetts chapter of the US Green Building Council (USGBC) finds that zero energy buildings are a great investment and are less expensive than stakeholders have previously assumed.
Much of what you hear in this report will not surprise you. But more people need to know. Please share this video widely; the producer and reporter have stated that whether NBC greenlights future stories on the subject—which they want to do—depends upon on how well this story does online. We need as many views of the story as possible to get future stories focusing on this topic.
On March 21, 2019, Councilors O’Malley and Wu held a City Council hearing as a first step to determining if they have support to require that all new municipal buildings henceforward will be net-zero carbon (NZC). This makes sense as the only course of action in light of the findings of the Carbon Free Boston Summary Report, released earlier this year. (See post below for more details about that report.) The report indicates that to meet the goal of being carbon neutral by 2050 promised by Mayor Walsh, all 87,000 buildings in Boston need to be NZC; any new construction henceforward should be NZC at the outset or it will just need to be retrofitted at great expense at a later date.
In January 2019, BU’s Institute for Sustainable Energy delivered the much-anticipated Carbon Free Boston Summary Report. The report evaluates key strategies across the building. transportation, waste, and energy sectors to inform the City’s Climate Action Plan update and is meant to provide a pathway based on real-world data by which Boston can reach carbon neutrality by 2050.
This is an excerpt from Bill McKibben’s piece in the April 4 issue of The New York Review of Books:
“Over the last decade, there has been a staggering fall in the price of solar and wind power, and of the lithium-ion batteries used to store energy. This has led to rapid expansion of these technologies, even though they are still used much less than fossil fuels: in 2017, for instance, sun and wind produced just 6 percent of the world’s electric supply, but they made up 45 percent of the growth in supply, and the cost of sun and wind power continues to fall by about 20 percent with each doubling of capacity. . . . Analysis suggests that in the next few years, they will represent all the growth. We will then reach peak use of fossil fuels, not because we’re running out of them but because renewables will have become so cheap that anyone needing a new energy supply will likely turn to solar or wind power.”
Councilor O’Malley’s first order of NZC business in the new year was to refile (per City Council requirements when a new calendar year begins) hearing orders. Toward this end, on January 16, he refiled a slightly reworded order to amend the definition of the floor area ratio (FAR) when developers are constructing a net-zero-carbon building as well as an order requiring all new municipal buildings be net-zero carbon.
In an effort to bring transparency and social accountability to the use of the City’s pension fund investments, three city councilors will hold a hearing open to the public on Feb. 28 at 2 pm. Public and written testimony accepted.
Here is why we need all new buildings in Boston to work toward being net-zero carbon, and we need to do it now since we are in the midst of the third largest building boom Boston has ever witnessed.
By Chuck Collins, Institute for Policy Studies
“The City of Boston, when it should be working vigorously to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, is allowing housing for the superrich that locks the city into new fossil fuel infrastructure. . . . ” Read the rest of the article and view the parody video by clicking the “Read More” button below.
Dear Mayor Walsh: We appeal to you to do everything in your power to accelerate the transition of the city of Boston away from an economy based on fossil fuels toward a new economy that creates green jobs, promotes sustainable development, shifts our communities toward a more democratic and equitable power grid, and elevates renewable systems of energy generation and use.