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On October 5, Boston’s Acting Mayor, Kim Janey, signed the Building Energy Reporting and Disclosure Ordinance (BERDO).  This new measure, called BERDO 2.0, is a set of amendments to a 2013 ordinance that required all commercial and residential buildings of at least 35,000 square feet in size or having 35 or more units to report their energy and water use. The new law greatly expands Boston’s authority and sets emission standards and reporting requirements for an expanded group, buildings greater than or equal to 20,000 square feet or with at least 15 units. It also defines penalties for failure to file annual reports or to comply with the new regulations. 

The prior laws primarily covered energy benchmarking, auditing and transparency for buildings. BERDO 2.0 puts the City of Boston directly on a path to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. Similar policies have been enacted in New York, St. Louis, Washington, D.C., the state of Washington, and, most recently, the state of Colorado. 

Most people have some familiarity with climate change and emissions issues stemming from transportation.  However, in the case of Boston, 70 percent of its carbon emissions come from buildings. While the new policy only affects 4 percent of the city’s buildings, those medium and large buildings account for 60 percent of all of Boston’s building emissions — or roughly 42 percent of all citywide emissions. New building construction will be covered, but it is only expected to account for 15 percent of buildings from now until 2050, hence the heavy reliance on existing properties.  

The ordinance requires owners of buildings covered by the regulations to submit plans that define their path to carbon neutrality by 2050 with specific emission reduction targets every five years. A number of options are available to achieve the targets, including energy efficiency improvements, switching from fossil fuel to electric heating, incorporating clean self-generation such as solar or carbon offset purchases or programs. 

Buildings that do not comply with the baseline reporting requirements will face fines ranging from $150 to $300 a day, depending on their size. Failure to accurately report emissions is punishable with fines ranging from $1,000 to $5,000. Finally, non-adherence to the emissions standards will result in fines up to $1,000 a day. 

Boston has done a good job in rolling out and documenting the program. The requirements and a primer on how to begin thinking about accomplishing BERDO compliance and reporting are available on the City of Boston’s website.

Actual Energy is eager to educate customers and potential customers about BERDO and help them navigate and comply with its terms. Interested parties would also benefit by engaging with us through our unparalleled Carbon Response Program. With it, energy users can develop optimized strategies to dynamically reduce carbon emissions and track the effectiveness of those strategies. Please reach out to our Director of Research, Peter Duprey, for more information: 

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