We’re proud of the many contributions we have made in transportation, land development, and the environment for the Greater Boston Area. Here are a few of our most recent accomplishments:


energy & environment

Equitable Workforce Development: Over the last 12 months, the City of Boston PowerCorps Boston team, Roxbury Community College Smart Buildings Technology Center team, and A Better City Energy & Environment team have been working to develop a training program in building operations to begin in early 2023.The PowerCorps Boston program takes marginalized youth aged 18-30 through a six-month training program aimed at preparing participants for entry level positions. For the building operations training, Roxbury Community College has developed the training curriculum and will lead the technical training, A Better City has secured in-service learning opportunities in A Better City member buildings, and the PowerCorps Boston team will continue foundational training to prepare participants for full time employment. This project meets A Better City’s equitable workforce development goals as well as the need to scale up a new generation of skilled workers in smart building technology to meet the growing needs of large buildings to meet emissions reduction requirements. A new partnership with the Linde Family Foundation has made this work possible.

Extreme Heat: As part of commitments in A Better City’s Equity in the Built Environment Action Plan and E+E Policy Agenda for 2021-2022, A Better City continues to explore opportunities for the business community to support the implementation of extreme heat solutions in Greater Boston. In September, A Better City hosted an Engaging Businesses in Extreme Heat Solutions panel event in partnership with the Green Ribbon Commission, which featured a set of presentations and a moderated panel discussion with the City of Boston, Communities Responding to Extreme Weather, Boston Medical Center, Boston University, GreenRoots, and the Museum of Science. In December, A Better City convened a kick-off meeting of the Extreme Heat Working Group of A Better City member representatives. This informal coalition discussed extreme heat policy principles, pilot projects for community heat resilience, and opportunities for the business community to support the implementation of Boston’s Heat Plan and 20-Year Urban Forest Plan. Building off this work, A Better City will publish an extreme heat primer and case studies in early 2023.

City Level Building Policies: Throughout 2022, A Better City has been engaging members about the phased regulatory process for the City of Boston’s Building Emissions Reduction and Disclosure Ordinance (BERDO 2.0) for existing buildings. Currently in Phase 2B of the BERDO 2.0 regulatory process, members have been very active in expressing their concerns and support as appropriate, through meetings and comment letters. In September, the City of Boston also introduced draft zoning, policy, and standards for new construction through the Zero Net Carbon Building Zoning Initiative. Members have been equally active with this draft zoning through meetings and a comment letter. A Better City has also been engaged with the City of Cambridge’s amendment to the Building Energy Use and Disclosure Ordinance (BEUDO) for existing buildings. A Better City has provided comments and remains active with partner organizations in highlighting the challenges associated with getting existing buildings to net zero by 2035.

State Level Climate Policy: A Better City has been actively engaging members in the update to the Commonwealth’s Stretch Energy Code and the development of the Municipal Opt-in Stretch Energy Code through meetings and a comment letter. In response to robust stakeholder feedback, the Commonwealth made changes to both codes before filing them for approval by the end of 2022. A Better City has also contributed to the development of state Clean Energy and Climate Plans through the transportation and buildings working groups of the Global Warming Solutions Act Implementation Advisory Committee (IAC). In October, A Better City submitted comprehensive comments on the 2050 Clean Energy and Climate Plan, which was finalized in December. Finally, to help inform the Massachusetts Climate Change Assessment and related State Hazard Mitigation and Climate Adaptation Plan, A Better City submitted comments to the Baker Administration in November 2022.

Three-Year Energy Efficiency Plans: At A Better City’s suggestion, the Department of Energy Resources established a Commercial and Industrial Working Group as part of the 2022-2024 Three-Year Energy Efficiency Plan. The working group, which includes three A Better City members, has met three times, including twice with a broader group of stakeholders to hear feedback about what is and isn’t working within MassSave programs and with utility engagement. A Better City meets regularly with DOER and other advocates responsible for the establishment of this working group, to set meeting agendas and monitor the group’s progress.

Equitable Climate Funding: A Better City continues to explore opportunities to leverage local, state, and federal funding to support the implementation of climate change mitigation and adaptation projects. A Better City sits on the Steering Committee for the MA/Boston Climate Bank, led by the Boston Green Ribbon Commission, MassCEC, Bank of America, and the City of Boston, which anticipates releasing a business plan and strategy for a two-year pilot Climate Bank beginning in early 2023. As advocated for in A Better City’s 2050 Clean Energy and Climate Plan comments, recommendations to the Healey-Driscoll Administration, and other comment letters, A Better City continues to push for opportunities to establish a Massachusetts Climate Bank and to leverage federal opportunities for seed funding. Finally, A Better City continues to serve on the core leadership and Legislative Working Group of the Sustainable and Equitable Funding Coalition, which is drafting legislation to fund climate initiatives across both mitigation and adaptation for the 2023-2024 legislative session.


Land use & development

Support of the State Administration Transition: In December, A Better City produced a Recommendations to the Healey-Driscoll Administration report that articulated 15 recommendations for state government related to A Better City’s areas of focus. Additionally, members of the A Better City team contributed to the Healey-Driscoll campaign’s Transportation Committee, staffing the MBTA and Financial and Capital Projects Subcommittees.

Greenway BID Renewal: A Better City led the successful renewal of the Greenway Business Improvement District by a vote of the representatives for properties located inside the Greenway BID geographic boundaries. A Better City negotiated a five-year funding agreement though FY 2028 with the BID, City of Boston, MassDOT, and the Greenway Conservancy. This agreement exceeds $18 million and will be used to support and enhance the Greenway corridor.

Greening the Blue Line: Supported by the Stone Living Lab, the project team of A Better City, Civic Space Collaborative, and Weston & Sampson has conducted an analysis of the MBTA Blue Line corridor in the segment between Wood Island and Orient Heights Stations to identify five sites that are vulnerable to potential coastal and stormwater flooding. To address that vulnerability, the team has prepared conceptual designs that include elements such as rain gardens, wet meadows, and inland wetlands to provide holding and filtration for stormwater and raised boardwalks where heavy flooding occurs. The team conducted surveys with residents, met with community organizations and government agencies, held a design charette, and held focus group meetings. With input from the focus group meetings, the team is refining the design concepts, assessing co-benefits, and preparing a summary of funding source opportunities to support implementation of any of these concepts.


MBTA Safety and Service Advocacy: A Better City conducted a range of activities in support of advancing successful MBTA operations, including routinely testifying before the MBTA Board of Directors on an array of topics like the June and August 2022 Federal Transit Administration Safety Management inspection and corrective action; means-tested fare pilot for unserved, qualified MBTA riders between the ages of 26 to 64; service restoration and workforce challenges, operations and capital budget concerns; and transformational projects like Bus Network Redesign. A Better City also continued the drum beat in the press, publishing several Banker & Tradesman op-eds and a CommonWealth Magazine op-ed, “Five Steps for Turning the MBTA Around.” Additionally, A Better City coordinated with TransitMatters on advocacy to advance funding and implementation of Regional Rail, publishing a joint CommonWealth Magazine op-ed “The Orange Line Roadmap for Commuter Rail.”  

A Better City Orange Line Shutdown Alternative: With little public notice, the MBTA announced plans to shut down the entire Orange Line for 30-days from mid-August through mid-September. A Better City prepared an alternative scenario to this extended closure that would limit the shutdown to two weeks, with the Orange Line open again on weekdays starting Labor Day. With a series of extended weekend closures from Labor Day to the end of October, A Better City’s analysis showed the MBTA would get more work done without the need to continue with an unprecedented shut down on weekdays after Labor Day. While this alternative was not adopted by the MBTA, the concept garnered significant media attention and stakeholder support.

Orange Line Shutdown Commuter Rail Enhancements: A Better City prepared an analysis and proposal for additional MBTA Commuter Rail service to support the shutdown. First, the analysis compared what the MBTA proposed for additional service to what it normally provides. That analysis showed that the MBTA’s proposed services was inadequate and would result in unacceptably long headways at key Commuter Rail stations that would service displaced former Orange Line riders. The study came up with a goal for Commuter Rail headway reductions during the shutdown and a specific set of recommended service improvements to reach those goals. After A Better City’s work was published and discussed in the press, the MBTA did add additional Commuter Rail services to what it had originally proposed. The MBTA Commuter Rail system proved to be an excellent alternative means of using transit throughout the Orange Line Shutdown.

Orange Line Shutdown Mitigation Support: A Better City also coordinated with the MBTA Customer Engagement Team to provide inputs and the business community perspective on a Rider’s Guide to the MBTA shutdown, participated in weekly MBTA briefings for advocates and the business community to provide feedback on the MBTA shutdown, and provided real-time feedback and recommendations to MBTA executive team. A Better City’s TMA team also provided tailored support for TMA members, including streamlined information from the MBTA, City of Boston, and community groups to provide viable options for TMA commuters. Following the shutdown, A Better City organized an A Better City Conversation with MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak to review the results of the Orange Line Shutdown.

Orange Line Shutdown Bluebikes Analysis: As the Orange Line shutdown neared, the City of Boston made an unlimited number of free 30-day Bluebike passes available to provide an alternative mobility option. Nearly 59,000 passes were redeemed, a staggering number which enabled roughly 300,000 trips during the shutdown, breaking ten ridership records in the process. The impact of Bluebikes during this time points to the potential of bicycling in the region and the power of modest incentives. A Better City’s TDM Director articulated what happened and framed how it should inform near-term transportation decisions in an op-ed and related fact sheet that will guide the decarbonization conversation and support work moving into 2023.

I-90 Allston Multimodal Project Preferred Alternative Designation: After years of advocacy led by A Better City and others, MassDOT formally identified the Modified All At-Grade Alternative as the so-called Preferred Alternative in December 2022, selecting it as the design to advance through the environmental review process. A Better City had submitted extensive comments on the content of the Notice of Project Change (NPC), seeking to include preference for the All At-Grade alternative, to include reference to the Peoples Pike “shared use path” and Agganis Way connection to the riverfront for potential incorporation in the preferred alternative, and to advocate for a longer public comment period—MassDOT ultimately incorporated these items into the environmental report. Additionally, upon review of the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs MEPA Certificate in September, A Better City prepared a list of critical concerns that need to be addressed in preparation of the Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Report to guide continuing collaboration with other stakeholders. The concerns include development of West Station as a multimodal transit hub, support for construction of decking concurrent with construction of the transportation elements below, advancement of the pedestrian and bicycle network elements, and addressing permitting issues.

I-90 Allston Multimodal Project Economic Benefits Study: In anticipation of the opportunity to support federal grant applications by MassDOT, A Better City initiated an economic study that would demonstrate the local and regional benefits of investment in the multimodal project. A Better City staff managed completion of a 160-page study by consultant AECOM that produced findings to support: assumptions on the potential scale of development, the viability of the life sciences sector as a driver of development in Allston, the importance of West Station as a multimodal transportation hub providing access to and from Allston, the employment and fiscal contributions of development around West Station, and the regional benefits in the MetroWest and Worcester corridor attributable to transportation improvements in Allston. The estimated total annual impact of employment on this site plus the multiplier effect on regional GDP of $6.4 billion in 2022 dollars represents 1.3% of the Boston region’s annual GDP of $480 billion—an exceptional impact for a single geographic location in a metro region of 4.9 million people.

I-90 Allston Multimodal Project Viaduct Preservation Contract & Construction Staging: A Better City, working closely with the Conservation Law Foundation and other stakeholders, successfully advocated for MassDOT to amend contract language to emphasize the interim nature of the viaduct preservation work. Additionally, as a critical next step in advancing the multimodal project, the team resumed development of a construction staging concept based on two principles: 1) minimizing temporary construction of project elements in the staging, and 2) placing the most beneficial elements of the roadway system in service permanently as soon as possible. Following these principles, a staging plan will result in savings of time and cost for the project as fewer components are installed temporarily and abandoned when replaced with permanent elements. Concepts developed by A Better City are being shared with stakeholders and will be advocated for consideration and adoption by MassDOT.

Bus Facility Modernization and Electrification: A Better City continues to advocate for the MBTA to undertake the modernization of all nine of its aged bus maintenance facilities, pursue a joint-development strategy where transit-oriented development is co-located onsite and helps subsidize the expense of building new facilities specially designed to support all-new battery-electric-buses, and take steps to begin to decarbonize the MBTA bus network through the proactive procurement of 100% battery-electric new bus fleets. During this period, the MBTA issued a public bid for the purchase of several hundred BEBs. The bid documents were voluminous. A Better City studied them carefully and developed a set of recommendations for possible bid amendments that A Better City submitted to the MBTA for its consideration. Specific work on new BEB bus maintenance facilities involved studying the MBTA’s developing plans for new facilities in Quincy and Arborway, and Wellington. The Wellington study work is being undertaken in collaboration with TransitMatters.

Allston/Brighton TMA Consolidated Shuttle Service: After a year of stakeholder engagement, vendor selection, final contracting, and route planning, the A Better City TMA team launched Consolidated Shuttle Service (CSS) operations in Allston/Brighton on July 5th. The CSS serves a large residential complex outside Brighton Center as well as a group of employers along the Guest Street corridor, making connections to transit at Boston Landing (Commuter Rail) and Harvard Square (Red Line). Since October, the team has laid the foundation for a robust reporting system for CSS ridership, which outlines key takeaways and trends on daily ridership, detailed information by run and stop, ticketing information, and month-over-month comparisons. In addition to the ridership reports, the team has also developed a centralized CSS landing page and custom collateral to help partners with promotion.

Bike Clinic Series: A Better City revamped the Bike Clinic series for 2022 by instituting a zone-based approach to the city with recurring events held at centrally located sites in Back Bay, Brighton, Downtown, Fenway, the South End, and the West End. This update proved to enhance the experience for commuters and member companies alike by expanding availability for appointments, creating flexible opportunities to match hybrid work schedules, and streamlining the sign-up process. A Better City held more than 24 events at the six recurring locations, serving194 cyclists between May and September. Compared to previous years, participating cyclists had up to 24x more dates to choose from with no additional cost or planning lift for participating members. This new scalability resulted in an exciting 73% increase in the number of participating member properties compared to 2021.

Water Transit Month / NoCarVember Promotions: In July, the A Better City team hosted the annual Water Transit Month commuter promotion with the Seaport TMA and Lower Mystic TMA. In addition to the signature photo contest, this year’s promotion featured a resource guide with helpful information to encourage commuters to try water transit. In the fall, the team introduced a rebrand of the annual November promotion to NoCarVember. This promotion rewards commuters for their sustainable travel choices with a $1 donation to a local organization fighting food insecurity for every set of 6 trip logs on GoMassCommute. This year, 65 commuters participated and logged 1651 trips, resulting in a $235 donation to the Allston Brighton Food Pantry.

Anticipating Post Pandemic Commuter Trends Report: In spring 2022, A Better City released a third iteration of the Boston Commuter Survey originally conducted in summer 2020 and spring 2021 using the Survey Monkey tool funded by the Energy Foundation. Promoting in conjunction with the City of Boston, A Better City collected more than 1,400 responses and in July published the final report. To support data collection, the team also conducted its first paid ads campaign across Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook with a $150 investment that resulted in over 17,000 total impressions and 115 total clicks. These valuable results provide another set of data points that help chart the complicated path out of the pandemic from a mobility perspective.

Employer Best Practices: Supported by the Barr Foundation, A Better City produced innovative Vaccine Maps, MBTA and Bluebikes cost calculators, ZIP code commute mapping tool, and more. Additionally, the team developed a Framework for TDM Impact that will guide work in the coming years and seeks to revolutionize how TDM strategies are supported, delivered, and measured.

Allston-Brighton Neighborhood Link Study: A Better City continued to share the work of the AB Neighborhood Link study, convening key stakeholders in the neighborhood to review final route concepts, cost estimates, and next steps toward implementation. Additionally, A Better City and the City of Boston will be partnering to apply for the MBTA Supplemental Transportation grant opportunity that is due in January 2023. If successful, the grant could bring more than $100,000 annually to cover expanded Consolidated Shuttle Service operations for the grant’s 4-year term expected to commence on July 1, 2023.


Publications & Programming: During the second half of 2022, A Better City has held one Executive Committee meeting, two Board of Director meetings, 13 A Better City Membership Engagement Programs, and published three reports, 25 email blasts, and 28 blog posts. Recent highlights included Segun Idowu, Boston's Chief of Economic Opportunity and Inclusion; Steve Poftak, MBTA General Manager; and Lisa Wieland, Massport CEO.

Norman B. Leventhal Awards: Named in memory of A Better City’s founding director, the Norman B. Leventhal Excellence in City Building Awards recognize the leaders and innovators who have made significant contributions to our built environment. On December 5th, A Better City was fortunate to gather in-person in the Boston Harbor Hotel's Wharf Room to honor a particularly impressive slate of civic leaders and visionaries that are continuing to build a better city for all. Thank you to our 2022 event sponsors, without whom this event would not be possible. Watch the full event program here and the awardee videos and acceptance speeches below.

  • City Builder: Hubie Jones, Dean Emeritus, Boston University School of Social Work
  • Environment: Mindy S. Lubber, CEO & President, Ceres
  • Land Use: David P. Manfredi, CEO & Founding Principal, Elkus Manfredi Architects
  • Transportation: Alan A. Altshuler, Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus, Harvard University

Member Recruitment & Retention:
A Better City continues to field membership inquiries and approach new membership opportunities with the assistance of the Executive Committee. We continue to retain our existing membership with a focus on timely annual dues collection.