Event Recap: Decarbonize Boston Summit
July 17, 2024

In the first of what is expected to become an annual event, the Decarb Boston Summit kicked off on June 18, 2024, at Sasaki. The Summit brought together building developers, REITs, corporate tenants, and technology providers, to discuss compliance and climate requirements and implications, innovation in materials, revolutionizing retrofits, next generation solutions, and financing for the future.

Yve Torrie moderated the panel on Pragmatic Solutions to Building Decarbonization with panelists from Turner Construction, Trane and JBB. She led the discussion by framing the policy landscape for decarbonizing large buildings in Boston, divided into those related to existing buildings and those related to new construction, as can be seen in the following slide:


  • light blue relates to policies specific to Boston
  • dark blue relates to policies outside of Boston
  • orange relates to codes that are under the Commonwealth’s jurisdiction

Please reach out to Yve Torrie with any questions. . . .


Eversource Electric Sector Modernization Plan for Boston
July 17, 2024

On Monday, July 15th, A Better City hosted the BERDO Commercial Real Estate Working Group’s fourth meeting. In the Working Group’s third meeting, the group asked to hear from Eversource, the electricity utility in Boston, about their future electricity plans for Boston. The group wanted to understand the increased capacity projections, how this translates into new or updated substations within Boston, and when and if, any grid limitations are expected. Eversource, like other electric utilities recently submitted Electric Sector Modernization Plans (ESMPs) that are currently with the Department of Public Utilities. These plans lay out the electric utility’s plans to modernize to meet the Commonwealth’s climate goals.

Eversource presented elements of their ESMP and followed with a robust Q+A session. A recording is available.

Some very high level takeaways included:

  • The Eversource system’s current peak is around 6.1 GW
  • The demand over the next 10 years is projected to increase to 7.5/7.6 GW and increase to around 15 GW (x2.5) by 2050
  • The largest drivers of increased grid demand in Boston over the next 10 years is expected to be new construction and electric mobility
  • We will move from a summer peaking to a winter peaking system around 2035 as more heating becomes electric
  • Eversource’s electric system in Boston will be close to overload in the next 10 years without new and updated projects, so the scheduled implementation of major distribution infrastructure projects in Boston is summarized in the following slide:


Webinar Recap: The Past, Present, and Future of Water Transit in Greater Boston
July 16, 2024

As part of the annual Water Transit Month celebration, A Better City co-hosted a webinar with the Seaport TMA and the Lower Mystic TMA to illuminate the state of water transit in the region. Ferries have long been part of Boston's history, from having the first ferry in the United States in 1631 to the resurgence of water transit in 2024. Tune into the recording of this webinar to learn about the past, present, and future of ferry operations from our esteemed panel, which includes water transit experts, changemakers, and ferry operators as we explore how ferries and water transit can shape our region’s transportation and connect our coastal communities.


  •                Kathy Abbott, President and CEO of Boston Harbor Now
  •                Dave Perry, Director of Ferry Operations of the MBTA
  •                Bob Lawler, Vice President and General Manager of Boston Harbor City Cruises
  •                Patrick Sullivan, Executive Director of  Seaport TMA


  •                Scott Mullen, TDM Director, A Better City

Watch the July 16th event recording at this link


Partnership Between A Better City, The Boston Foundation, Boston University School of Public Health, and City of Boston Launches Heat Sensor Pilot to Fill Critical Data Gaps in Measuring the Lived Experience of Extreme Heat in Boston’s Hotspot Communities
July 15, 2024

Download Press Release

Partnership Between A Better City, The Boston Foundation, Boston University School of Public Health, and City of Boston Launches Heat Sensor Pilot to Fill Critical Data Gaps in Measuring the Lived Experience of Extreme Heat in Boston’s Hotspot Communities

Initiative to install sensors throughout the City of Boston to help close data gaps in measuring live temperature data across Boston’s neighborhoods, to provide more accurate indicators for heat waves and official heat emergency declarations, and to guide data-informed resource allocation



Heat Sensor Pilot Project Team Launches the First Sensor Installation at Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center. Photo Credit: A Better City and Boston University.

Left to right: Zoë Davis (City of Boston), Isabella Gambill (A Better City), Jonathan Lee (Boston University), Ben Hires (Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center), Ameera Saba (Boston University), Julia Howard (The Boston Foundation), and Dr. M. Patricia Fabián (Boston University)

(Boston, MA) July 16, 2024 – A Better City, in partnership with The Boston Foundation, Boston University’s School of Public Health, and the City of Boston’s Environment Department (with input from the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics and Green New Deal team), celebrates the launch of a heat sensor pilot program to address the significant data gaps in measuring . . .


ABC Celebrates the Launch of our 2024 Temperature Sensor Pilot
June 18, 2024

A Better City was thrilled to officially launch its summer 2024 temperature sensor pilot last week at the Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center! Through this project and joint partnership with The Boston Foundation, the City of Boston, and Boston University’s School of Public Health, area Better City is deploying 15 temperature sensors across heat island neighborhoods in Boston to better understand differences in lived heat experiences. Temperature sensors are being installed on member and partner organizations’ properties that measure air temperature and relative humidity in the 5 heat island neighborhoods of Boston’s Heat Plan (Chinatown, Dorchester, East Boston, Mattapan, and Roxbury), as well as in Allston-Brighton and Jamaica Plain. In each target neighborhood, two temperature sensors are being installed, one in a neighborhood hotspot location (according to the hottest parts of Boston’s heat maps) and one in a cool spot comparison location. To ensure continuity and build upon previous leadership, an additional “cool” sensor is also being installed at the Museum of Science along the Charles River, to connect to their earlier work on Wicked Hot Boston. For all sensor locations in target neighborhoods, in addition to locating sensors according to heat maps from Boston’s Heat Plan, sensors are being sited based on proximity to populations with multiple environmental justice social vulnerability criteria, or near communities of people who are on the frontlines of heat impacts and other social vulnerabilities (like energy burden, English isolation, air pollution and asthma rates, etc.).

Project Background

While Boston has fantastic examples of citizen science temperature mapping through projects like Wicked Hot Boston and Wicked Hot Mystic, as well as temperature sensor and data analysis work through C-HEAT in Chelsea and East Boston, there remains a significant data gap in measuring live temperature data . . .


Summary of PA’s draft 2025-2027 Energy Efficiency Plan as it Relates to ABC’s November recommendations
June 14, 2024

In November of 2023, after soliciting feedback in a facilitated discussion with its membership, A Better City submitted recommendations to the Massachusetts Program Administrators (PAs) via the Energy Efficiency Advisory Council (EEAC) public comment process. A Better City had also been coordinating closely with the Commercial & Industrial Working Group (C&IWG) and the HVAC taskforce to identify and implement improvements to the PAs’ current processes and procedures for project development.

As required by regulation, the PAs submitted the draft of the 2025-2027 Energy Efficiency Plan to the EEAC for comment and further refinement prior to the issuance of a council resolution regarding the plan in June of 2024. A Better City has reviewed the plan with an eye toward how and to what degree the PAs addressed the recommendations made last year.

For ease of reference, here are links to the relevant documents on the EEAC website:



Opportunities for Collaboration on A Better City’s Equity in the Built Environment Projects
May 30, 2024

In the coming months, A Better City is excited to advance two vital initiatives that tangibly advance equity in the built environment: the PowerCorpsBOS Buildings Operation Cohort #2 and the new Temperature Sensor Pilot. In 2021, A Better City launched an Equity in the Built Environment Action Plan to more deliberately and strategically advance this work. A Better City’s Energy & Environment Advisory Committee moved to adopt an equity-centered vision statement and to prioritize several equity-focused goals and initiatives that are reflected in the


Event Recap: ABC Conversation with MassCEC CEO Dr. Emily Reichert
May 15, 2024

In early May, A Better City hosted a conversation with the CEO of the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC). During this event facilitated by ABC’s Director of Climate, Energy, and Resilience, Yve Torrie, Dr. Reichert shared about MassCEC’s role as a quasi-public state government agency that is funded through the state budget, and works alongside other state agencies, but is not part of one of the Secretariats. MassCEC serves as a key facilitator for industry to interface with state government and emerging funding opportunities and works with a variety of clean energy stakeholders, from homeowners to businesses and start-ups.

MassCEC works to support emerging technology in climatetech and in the clean energy space, including working with startups inventing new technologies to provide them with grants for testing, demonstration, and scaling up their business. MassCEC makes investments in climatetech through their 2030 Fund, or small investment fund that supports early-stage companies doing climatetech, disbursing $5M per year for every year between now and 2030. Such investments support efforts to decarbonize buildings and transportation, as well as manufacturing processes and to expand energy storage. Additionally, MassCEC is working to support the expansion of offshore wind in Massachusetts, towards the goal of 30 GW of power generation off our shores in Massachusetts and off the coast of Maine by 2035. Finally, Dr. Reichert discussed MassCEC’s investments in equitable workforce development, through programs like the MassCEC clean energy internship program and other opportunities for vocational schools, labor unions, and community colleges.

Dr. Reichert also emphasized the importance of supporting the Governor’s Mass Leads Act (H.4459), a $3.5B economic development bond bill that would provide $1B to climate innovation and technologies over the next 10 years, . . .


A Better City & BPDA Article 80 Modernization Discussion Recap
May 13, 2024

On May 7, members of the Land Use and Development Advisory Committee along with a larger group of ABC members, guests, and BPDA staff met to discuss progress on modernizing the Article 80 project review process.  BPDA Deputy Director of Master Planning and Policy Nupoor Monani and Transformation Project Manager Kevin Crossley presented a summary of recent activities, with the goals of catching up on evolving ideas and receiving feedback on the process and material presented.  Kevin reviewed the timeline of the effort and outlined engagement methods used to identify problems with the current process and begin to identify solutions.  Emerging ideas have been prioritized with the top three: 1) establish clear, transparent performance tracking and approval (and rejection) of standards, 2) establish a predictable approach for determining mitigation and community benefits, and 3) reform advisory groups to build trust and generate more impactful and targeted input.

Three core changes proposed for the review process are: 1) effective engagement, 2) consistent standards, and 3) coordinated review.

For Effective Engagement, three actions are to expand community engagement methods to allow more inclusive and diverse participation, to require early engagement from developers based on standards and guidelines established by BPDA, and to replace current IAGs (Impact Advisory Groups) with new Community Advisory Groups (CATs).  During questions and responses, a broader definition of “community” to include people who spend time working in Boston as well as those who live here was suggested.  A concern was raised of potential delay in advancing development projects if there needs to be time to train CAT participants. 

For Consistent Standards, actions include new definitions in zoning for community benefits, mitigation, and enabling infrastructure; standardize criteria for small, large, and extra-large or . . .


Boston and the Doom Loop
May 03, 2024

Our Times

Across the country, cities are recovering from the impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic. The response to the pandemic led to precautions like remote work for many of us, supported by our robust communications tools, challenges of our transportation systems and social distancing, the desire for more independence, and the urge to enjoy more of our family time. These situations have lingered, and some of us are now blessed or burdened by a residual attitude supporting remote work. While downtowns suffer from unintended consequences of partially empty office space, vacant storefronts and failing small businesses, loss of urban vitality, and falling property values, these conditions now threaten to strain cities’ fiscal resources as property tax revenues begin to plummet. Our transportation systems have been skewed toward greater use of private vehicles bringing increased roadway congestion and starving fare revenues for transit.

Cities are in varying states of rebound and recovery. Much like our part of the country still rebounding from the weight of ice age glaciers that receded millennia ago, the pandemic recovery seems to be prolonged and not very uniform. Reportedly, St. Louis is still in the throes of commercial meltdown with huge vacancies and loss of property values while San Francisco that suffered the most visible contractions is beginning a gradual upturn in some quarters.

Here in Massachusetts, we have additional challenges of a transit system that has endured years of neglect and disinvestment, a housing market with supply and demand issues causing costs to rise, demographic imperatives of an aging population exacerbating the flight of educated population in their peak productive years due to high costs, and the impacts of climate change on sea level in the Gulf of Maine and in our diminishing winter bringing more rain storms and less snow for our ski areas.

Property values, tax revenues, costs, . . .