Boston to require large buildings to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050

Property owners can be fined up to $1,000 a day for failing to meet emissions targets

National Weekend Edition /
Oct.October 10, 2021 12:00 PM

(iStock, Illustration by Kevin Cifuentes for The Real Deal)

Boston has given the city’s commercial landlords an ultimatum: take immediate steps to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions or face thousands of dollars in fines.

An ordinance signed into law this week sets new annual emissions targets and reporting requirements for large buildings in the city, with the ultimate goal of eliminating greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Acting Mayor Kim Janey signed an updated Building Emissions Reduction and Disclosure Ordinance, the first since BERDO was enacted in 2013, after more than a year of negotiations, according to Bisnow.

BERDO 2.0 requires landlords to report emission for buildings over 20,000 square feet and hit annual carbon reduction benchmarks. While certain allowances exist, such as those for historic buildings, failure to comply with reporting guidelines or meet emissions standards could result in fines ranging from $150 to $1,000 daily, depending on the building’s size.

Net zero, or carbon neutrality, means the removal of as much carbon emissions as are generated. Building owners typically buy carbon credits — permits allowing greenhouse gas emissions — to offset emissions and allow them to meet regulations.

Previously, BERDO’s regulations applied to buildings only 35,000 square feet or larger. The update applies to 4 percent of Boston’s buildings, which together account for 60 percent of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to officials.

A handful of cities across the U.S. have set similar goals. The City of Los Angeles has some of the most ambitious for a city its size. All new buildings must be net-zero by 2030 and all buildings citywide should be net-zero by 2050.

[Bisnow] — Dennis Lynch





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