A Better City’s Thanks | Secretary Theoharides:
May 13, 2022

Prepared by Rick Dimino, President & CEO 

 

On behalf of our 130 member businesses and institutions, thank you for your leadership in developing
equitable climate and clean energy policies in Massachusetts during your tenure as Secretary of Energy
and Environmental Affairs for the Commonwealth.

A Better City was proud to partner with your office on a number of important initiatives, including
incorporating the perspective of the business community and, ultimately, getting to “yes” on the
Climate Act of 2021. Without your leadership on this bill, we would not have doubled our offshore
wind capacity in Massachusetts, set science-based emissions reduction targets, or codified the
Commonwealth’s first-ever environmental justice protections, which will help to protect our most
vulnerable communities.

We were grateful for your support and leadership throughout the Three-Year Planning process for
2022-2024, which established a Commercial and Industrial (C&I) working group for stakeholders to
provide feedback on new and existing C&I programs. We also appreciated your steadfast leadership on
climate resilience, with the expansion of the successful Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness program
and the growing opportunities to protect climate and community resilience at a regional scale in
Massachusetts.

Despite leading one of the most extensive climate and clean energy secretariats in the country, you
and your office were always accessible to A Better City and our members, as well as any interested
stakeholders who wanted to provide input into Massachusetts’ policies. We deeply appreciate your
collaboration and look forward to seeing the continued positive impacts of your leadership in your new
role at RWE Renewables.

Congratulations on a landmark tenure and thank for your continued efforts to create a cleaner, greener Commonwealth for . . .

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Clean Energy & Climate Plan for 2025 & 2030
May 05, 2022

Written by YVE TORRIE, DIRECTOR OF CLIMATE, ENERGY & RESILIENCE with Isabella Gambill, SENIOR POLICY ADVISOR ON CLIMATE, ENERGY & RESILIENCE

The Massachusetts Clean Energy and Climate Plan (CECP) for 2025 and 2030 provides details on the actions the Commonwealth will undertake through the next decade to ensure the 2025 and 2030 emissions limits are met. The CECP development is informed by the 2050 Decarbonization Roadmap such that the strategies, policies, and actions outlined in the CECP will put the Commonwealth on a pathway to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

The State Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) held public hearings on April 14th and 15thto provide an update to the Interim CECP that was released in December 2020 and accepted public comment through April 30. EEA is now working to finalize the CECP by July 1st.

A Better City , which sits on the Governor’s Global Warming Solutions Act Implementation Advisory Committee, provided a comprehensive set of comments on the proposed policies, sublimits, and targets and metrics, summarized below.

Overall, A Better City recognizes the many improvements made to the interim CECP and encourages EEA to further refine the proposed policies to address two key shortcomings: 1) the CECP transportation sector policies fail to prioritize investment in public transit, instead focusing almost exclusively on the promotion of zero emission vehicles (ZEVs)—this strategy contradicts Governor Baker's own Commission on the Future of Transportation report and represents a missed opportunity to maximize co-benefits that will create a more vibrant, equitable, and connected Commonwealth for all, and 2) the CECP building sector policies do not adequately . . .

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Proposed MBTA Capital Investment Plan (FY23-27) Falls Short of Advancing Critical Safety, Modernization, Expansion & Decarbonization Efforts
May 05, 2022

Written by Caitlin Allen Connelly, Project Director 

In March 2022, the MBTA released their proposed $9.4 billion FY23-27 Capital Investment Plan (CIP) for public comment. The plan included 552 projects spread out across two main funding categories: 1) Reliability and Modernization; and 2) Expansion programs. A Better City submitted comments urging the MBTA to strategically deploy resources, now, to advance critical safety, modernization, expansion, and decarbonization efforts, which the proposed FY23-27 CIP falls short of doing.

To create the public transit system the region needs and deserves, the MBTA must ensure projects having funding levels that match the implementation schedules required to achieve intended outcomes. For FY23-27, this means funding beyond planning and design work for Bus Facility Modernization and Battery Electric Bus procurement, Regional Rail phase 1 (barely addressed in the proposed CIP), and the Red-Blue Connector. Increased investments in the Silver Line to serve the South Boston Waterfront and to advance signals for the Red & Orange line are also necessary. We are asking the MBTA to amend the draft CIP to include these important initiatives.

Here is a breakdown of the current draft CIP:

The MBTA and the Commonwealth have access to unprecedented capital resources through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. If they are ready with competitive projects, they can leverage federal and state dollars to bolster critical short- and long-term infrastructure needs to support a strong public transit system. This will help facilitate a smooth transition to the new normal and economic recovery, as well help ensure the riding public can afford, access, and rely on safe public transit to connect neighborhoods . . .

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TESTIMONY: MBTA Agenda Item 5 & 6
May 04, 2022

Presented by Tom Ryan, Tom Ryan, Senior Advisor on Policy, Government & Community Affairs

MBTA Board of Directors, April 28, 2022, Agenda Items 5 & 6 | Delivered on Wednesday, April 27th

Members of the Board thank you for the opportunity to submit comments today.

The Commonwealth is experiencing a transition to the new normal, with increased return to the workplace, and we expect to see additional commuters in the months ahead. Riders are making important mobility decisions about how they reconnect to the workplace, family, recreational trips, and daily activities.

We are asking that the FY23 MBTA Budget commit to a return to full-service levels across all modes and to put more focus on customer experience. Safety, reliability, and affordability are top of mind for riders. It is critical that the MBTA provides transit service that addresses these concerns, supports increasing demand, and enables strong, equitable economic recovery and growth.

Now more than ever, bringing back and growing ridership will depend on the MTBA’s ability to show that mass transit can make be the better commuting alternative. This is a short- and long-term objective for the MBTA. Today, it’s about getting people back. Tomorrow, it’s about ensuring there is funding to keep service running!

This week, A Better City released a new report called Keeping the MBTA on Track: A Review of Prior Commitments, which provides an update on how initiatives launched by the FMCB are advancing since the appointment of the new Board of Directors.

  • The MBTA is behind with respect to a means-tested fare program. Last summer the FMBC voted to fund the program in the FY23 budget and to launch a pilot no later than September 2022. This Board should not be backing away from this commitment and we . . .

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Incorporating Climate Resilience into Chapter 91
April 06, 2022

WRITTEN BY ISABELLA GAMBILL, SENIOR POLICY ADVISOR ON CLIMATE, ENERGY & RESILIENCE

In Massachusetts, Chapter 91, often referenced as our Waterfront Protection Act, was established to help govern the protection and public use of the Commonwealth’s tidelands, waterways, and waterfronts. Established in 1866 and with roots in Colonial Ordinances from the mid-1600s, Chapter 91 (Ch. 91) affirms our commitment to a “public trust doctrine”, or the notion that natural resources like our waterfront should not belong to any one person or entity, but instead, are to be collectively owned and enjoyed by all members of the public.

Standing as the oldest program protecting the public trust of waterfronts in the country, Ch. 91 regulates activities like construction, dredging, and the fill of tidelands, ponds, and certain rivers and streams, and it applies to activities on both coastal and inland waterways in Massachusetts. With Ch. 91, Massachusetts explicitly protects the rights of the public to access our waterfronts and stipulates that private uses of tidelands and waterways must serve a broader public purpose. While there are many state agencies that help to govern our waterways, the Waterways Program within the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) is the primary agency tasked with implementing the “public trust doctrine” for our waterways and waterfronts in the Commonwealth.

Under this jurisdiction within MassDEP, the Commonwealth is currently seeking input on proposed updates to Chapter 91 regulations (310 CMR 9.00), to incorporate a need to consider the effects of a changing climate on our waterfronts and waterways. These Ch. 91 regulatory updates are looking to incorporate the climate impacts of sea level rise, increased precipitation, and intensifying storms into the Ch. 91 process over time.

Earlier this spring, A Better City submitted written comments with our recommendations . . .

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Large Building Construction In MA: What You Need To Know About New & Updated Building Codes
April 06, 2022

Written By Yve Torrie, Director Of Climate, Energy & Resilience

Many A Better City members own or develop large buildings in Massachusetts. They are, therefore, very familiar with the Massachusetts Building Energy Codes, which historically have been a two-tier system monitored by the Board of Building Regulations and Standards (BBRS):

  • The Base Building Energy Code is required to be updated every three years, as per the Green Communities Act of 2008, to ensure consistency with the most recent version of the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC).
  • The Stretch Energy Code is an above-code appendix to the Base Building Energy Code, that emphasizes energy performance, as opposed to prescriptive requirements. It aims at cost effective but more energy efficient construction than the “base” energy code. Introduced as part of the Green Communities Act of 2008, the Stretch Energy Code has been adopted by 299 of 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts.

The 2021 Climate Act introduced some changes to this two-tier system. It required a new climate-focused energy code option, a Municipal Opt-In Specialized Stretch Energy Code, to be created by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) and promulgated by December 2022. This new code would include net-zero building performance standards, a definition of a net-zero building, and be designed to achieve statutory commitments to MA GHG emission limits and sub-limits, including a 50% GHG emissions reduction economy-wide by 2030 from 1990 levels. In addition, DOER, in consultation with the BBRS, is to update the Stretch Energy Code from time to time.

What has been a two-tier Energy Code system in Massachusetts, will become a three-tier code system by January . . .

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TESTIMONY: MBTA Infrastructure Investments
April 06, 2022

Presented by Tom Ryan, Senior Advisor on Policy, Government & Community Affairs

Members of the Board, thank you for the opportunity to submit comments today:

Congratulations on Monday’s official opening of the Green Line Extension to Union Square. This is a great accomplishment for the MBTA and an important symbol of the potential impact of the T’s capital program. It helps to remind everyone that ambitious capital investments can strengthen the Commonwealth’s public transportation system and bring excitement to the entire region.

Today, we can continue this momentum by planning the next infrastructure investments to improve, decarbonize, and transform the region’s public transit service. Many capital investment ideas became official commitments years ago, through the MBTA Strategic Plan and schedules approved by the FMCB.

This year, the 5-year Capital Investment Plan should deliver on these recent promises and advance the Red-Blue Connector, the procurement of Type 10 Green Line vehicles, and infrastructure like platform screen doors that will allow the MBTA to reach headway goals for the Red and Orange Lines. The Board should also prioritize funding for projects that address the system’s vulnerability to climate change, as well as electrify the Commuter Rail and bus fleet, including modernization of bus maintenance facilities.

The Biden Administrations Infrastructure Law (BIL) does provide a rare opportunity for the MBTA to use federal dollars to advance many of these promises. We ask the Board to make federal infrastructure grant applications a regular, standing item for these board meetings.

Just yesterday, the federal government released information on the largest competitive grant programs. Applications are due this May! So what capital projects will the MBTA team want to align with applications into these new grant programs? How does the CIP relate to projects that are . . .

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Member Spotlight: Camber Development
March 31, 2022

New Member Welcome: CAMBER DEVELOPMENT 

A Better City is excited to welcome Camber Development to our membership community. Established in 2020 as a real estate investor and developer, Camber currently owns 1.8 million square feet of industrial product in greater Boston and is currently developing a boutique life science project in the South End and a Biomanufacturing campus in Bedford, MA. Leveraging institutional expertise from its leadership team, Camber strives to create a nimble, creative, and entrepreneurial environment within its firm. Camber is particularly interested in bringing energy efficiency measures to its development projects, as well as to its existing assets, and looks forward to engaging in A Better City’s policy work in this space. David Wilkinson returns to A Better City’s Board of Directors and is excited to collaborate with the group in his new role with Camber.

MEET DAVID WILKINSON: 

Dave joined Camber Development in March 2021 as Managing Partner. Dave brings extensive institutional real estate investment and management experience to Camber, having spent the previous nine years at Tishman Speyer.

Prior to joining Camber, Dave served as Managing Director - Head of Boston Leasing, Asset Management, and Property Management for Tishman Speyer, a global vertically integrated real estate development and management firm. In his time at Tishman Speyer, Dave was responsible for managing all aspects of the firm’s 3.1 million square foot office portfolio in Boston. In addition, he was responsible for the two-phase Pier 4 development, a 600,000 square foot mixed-use office and residential project . . .

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A Better City Statement on Governor Baker’s Transportation Bond Bill
March 17, 2022

Prepared by Rick Dimino, President & CEO | FULL RELEASE

 

There are immense needs throughout the Commonwealth to fortify, modernize, and decarbonize our transportation system. These efforts are necessary to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change in order to meet the challenges of our future economy and enhance our region’s quality of life. There will be new competitive grant programs that can help address these challenges and the Commonwealth must maximize these opportunities. 

 

Today’s release of Governor Baker’s transportation bond bill is a significant step forward to determine the potential impact and benefits of the federal infrastructure dollars in the Commonwealth. This proposal includes important policies that prioritizes speed and urgency for using these funds, and it would show Massachusetts is positioned as a top place in the country to deliver major capital investment projects. 

 

We are particularly encouraged by the details of this bond bill that calls for updates to state laws related to capital project delivery.  The proposal for A+B bidding would help to deliver projects faster in the Commonwealth, and also take advantage of federal funds.  This project worked well for the MassDOT during the Obama Administration and should be allowed again.

 

Improving our procurement rules and having state matching funds available can help the Commonwealth win grants to support the I-90 Multimodal project in Allston, the Red – Blue Connector, modernization of our bus fleets, and transit improvements throughout the region that can help decarbonize our transportation system.  Back in August, A Better City made recommendations in our report

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Member Spotlight: DLJ Real Estate Partners
March 14, 2022

NEW MEMBER WELCOME: DLJ  REAL ESTATE PARTNERS

A Better City is excited to welcome DLJ Real Estate Capital Partners to our membership community. Created in 1995 as the real estate private equity platform of Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, Inc., their investments center on a property-by-property basis with an emphasis on dynamic communities. Boynton Yards, a DLJ Real Estate Capital Partners + Leggat McCall Properties development is underway in Somerville, a 1.8M SF life science and innovation community in Union Square. Located along the Green Line Extension, once completed the three buildings will boost 1.3M SF of Class-A lab/office space, 450 apartments, a creative arts center, over 2 acres of public green space, and more. John W. Fenton, Development Managing Partner has joined our board of directors and we are looking forward to future . . .

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