Boston Mayor Wants Building Energy Reporting

Following the trend of several large cities, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino announced the filing of the Building Energy Reporting and Disclosure Ordinance with the Boston City Council.

As a component of the city’s climate action plan to meet Mayor Menino’s greenhouse gas reduction goals, this ordinance would require all large and medium sized-buildings to report their annual energy and water use to the City of Boston. The proposed ordinance is intended to encourage building owners to participate in local utility energy efficiency programs and educate tenants on building performance. The ordinance requires passage by the Boston City Council.

Major cities across the country have already adopted similar ordinances including New York City, Washington, DC, San Francisco, Seattle and Minneapolis. Lessons learned from these cities have informed the ordinance proposed by Mayor Menino, which would require all large and medium sized buildings to report annual energy use, water use, and greenhouse gas emissions tracked through Energy Star Portfolio Manager to the City of Boston Environment Department. The city would then make energy and water use per square foot, Energy Star ratings, greenhouse gas emissions, and other identifying and contextual information for individual buildings available online.

Since fall of 2012, Boston has been conducting extensive outreach to a wide variety of building owners, industry organizations, and other stakeholders to craft the ordinance. In particular, Environment and Energy Services is working with local utilities to help develop a process that simplifies whole building data collection and reporting.

The first building owner to report its energy usage would be the City of Boston itself, which would annually disclose its energy and water use in all of its facilities starting with 2012 building data. In following years, the ordinance would apply to non-residential buildings greater than 25,000 square feet and residential buildings 25 units or more. The proposed roll out schedule for reporting requirements is as follows:

  • Non-residential buildings 50,000 square feet or more in 2014
  • Residential buildings with 50 units or more in 2015
  • Non-residential buildings 25,000 square feet or more in 2016
  • Residential buildings with 25 units or more in 2017

In addition to reporting energy and water use, building owners may be required to conduct energy audits or other evaluations every five years to identify opportunities for energy efficiency investments. Buildings in the top tier of energy performance or already taking significant efficiency actions will be exempted from this requirement.

Not all Boston building owners like the idea of mandatory energy benchmarking and reporting. The Greater Boston Real Estate Board has commissioned its own study of what has happened in other cities to determine whether such programs actually result in significant energy savings, according to the Boston Globe.

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