Member Spotlight: Educational Institutions During COVID-19
July 29, 2020

WRITTEN BY STEPHANIE EGGERS, FELLOW

A Better City members continue to step up during these difficult times to ensure that higher education can resume through the pandemic and develop comprehensive reopening plans and strategies to give students and faculty peace of mind in eventually resuming in-person classes. Their actions not only ensure the safety of their local university communities but also help protect their households and those in the surrounding neighborhoods and beyond.

Educational Institutions
Boston University
Harvard
MIT
Roxbury Community College
UMass Boston

This week’s spotlight focuses on the work of educational institutions in the A Better City Community. Our members are actively engaged in the community to limit the spread by reducing in-person operations as much as possible as well as leading the way with comprehensive reopening plans to pursue traditional education while keeping students and faculty safe.

Putting Community First

Our members recognize their role in their surrounding communities with the resources available on a university campus that can make a positive impact . . .

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BERDO ENERGY ASSESSMENT COMPLIANCE FINDINGS
July 29, 2020

WRITTEN BY: YVE TORRIE, DIRECTOR OF CLIMATE, ENERGY & RESILIENCE & MARIA MASOOD, INTERN

INTRODUCTION 

Based on the City of Boston’s 2019 Climate Action Plan update, in 2020 the City of Boston committed to a Building Emission Performance Standard aimed at putting existing buildings on a trajectory to zero net carbon by 2050. The City of Boston is interested in integrating this standard with its current Building Energy Reporting and Disclosure Ordinance (BERDO) program.

The goal of BERDO is to reduce energy use or greenhouse gas emissions over time within Boston’s large and medium-sized buildings. It consists of reporting and disclosing annual energy and water use for buildings over 35,000 square feet, and an energy assessment or major energy savings action every five years.  To comply with the energy assessment requirement of BERDO, one of the following improvements must be demonstrated:

  • A reduction by at least 15 percent or more over the last five years of a building’s:
    • energy usage;
    • energy use intensity;
    • annual greenhouse gas emissions, excluding changes to the electricity grid, or;
    • greenhouse gas intensity, excluding changes to the electricity grid.
  • An improvement of a building’s Energy Star rating by at least 15 points

To understand the effectiveness of BERDO’s energy assessment or major energy saving action every five years, the Boston Green Ribbon Commission’s (GRC’s) Commercial Real Estate Working Group and A Better City (ABC), are conducting an analysis of member buildings that have been required to comply with the energy assessment/energy savings action to date. The goal of this analysis is to understand what percentage of GRC/ABC member buildings have completed the assessment using which compliance pathways, and what percentage have not . . .

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EVENT RECAP: CITY OF BOSTON BUILDING SECTOR POLICY DEVELOPMENT TO GET TO NET ZERO BY 2050
July 22, 2020

THURSDAY, JULY 16, 2020 | ZOOM MEETING
ALISON BRIZIUS, CITY OF BOSTON ENVIRONMENT’S ENVIRONMENT DEPARTMENT, RICH MCGUINESS, BOSTON PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT AGENCY

Last week, A Better City hosted an event with staff from the City of Boston and members of the real estate community interested in engaging in net zero building policy. Yve Torrie, Director of Climate, Energy, and Resilience at A Better City welcomed Alison Brizius, Director of Climate and Environmental Planning for the City of Boston’s Environment Department, and Richard McGuiness, Deputy Director for Climate Change and Environmental Planning at the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA). To kick off the meeting, Yve highlighted the building codes work A Better City and Boston’s Green Ribbon Commission’s Commercial Real Estate Working Group have engaged in over the past two years. This work includes the ongoing convening of members that have developed and are advocating for a set of net zero buildings policy principles. These principles were released in June by ABC and can be accessed here. They include recommendations to jurisdictions, including the City of Boston, on technical considerations, implementation actions, and process steps for effectively developing net zero policies to achieve ambitious climate targets.

Rich McGuiness and Alison Brizius introduced the ongoing work the City of Boston is conducting to implement the building policies called for in their 2019 Climate Action Plan Update. Rich introduced the BPDA’s process to develop a Zero Net Carbon (ZNC) code. He highlighted that while 85% of the buildings that exist today will still exist in 2050, the 15% of the building stock that will be developed in the next three decades must be net zero or will need to be retrofitted. The . . .

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Member Spotlight: Real Estate & Property Management During COVID-19
July 21, 2020

WRITTEN BY STEPHANIE EGGERS, FELLOW

A Better City members continue to step up during these challenging times to help residents remain reassured that services will remain unchanged and safety precautions will be adopted in properties. Real Estate and Property Management firms have a responsibility to keep residents and essential workers at their properties safe while providing financial assistance to those directly affected when possible. Their actions are also supporting those on the frontline with PPE shortages, providing an operational road map for businesses that occupy their spaces when reopening and moving from the building lobby to respective desks. This week’s spotlight focuses on the work of Real Estate and Property Management Firms in the A Better City Community that are actively engaged in providing the community and residents with essential services while understanding the economic impact of the pandemic on individuals.

PUTTING COMMUNITY FIRST

Our members recognize the unique opportunities they have to make a positive impact in the community during the fight against COVID-19 to aid the strained healthcare systems with PPE and emergency facilities as well as providing educational materials to the general public on how this pandemic is shifting the real estate industry and the greater economic system.

  • Avalon Bay is providing direct support and guidance for residents that have tested positive for COVID-19 or are in quarantine after possible exposure to limit the spread within the community. They have also published a list of resources on their website about general public health guidance, mental and physical health tips, and resources for those who need assistance with getting food or other basic needs.i
  • Colliers International and JLL has a multitude of resources and webinars about . . .

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Member Spotlight: Communication, Insurance, and Utility Companies During COVID-19
July 14, 2020

WRITTEN BY STEPHANIE EGGERS, FELLOW

A Better City members continue to step up during these challenging times to help keep

UTILITIES, COMMUNICATIONS, & INSURANCE
BLUE CROSS BLUE SHIELD OF MA
COMCAST
CONVENTURES 
DENTERLEIN WORLDWIDE
LIBERTY MUTUAL INSURANCE
MANULIFE
METLIFE
NATIONAL GRID
VERIZON
VICINITY ENERGY

businesses and individuals afloat through the economic shutdown. Communication, insurance, and utility companies have a responsibility to maintain essential services for customers during hardship, even through the economic downturn, and have fulfilled their duties to help those in need during this time. Their actions are also supporting a united relief effort . . .

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EVENT RECAP: THERMAL ELECTRIFICATION OF LARGE BUILDINGS IN THE COMMONWEALTH PANEL EVENT
July 08, 2020

MONDAY, JUNE 30th, 2020 | ZOom MEETING
AJEY PAnDEY, CADMUS, BRAD CAMPBELL. CONSERVATION LAW FOUNDATION, ELI HERMAN, AKELIUS PROPERTIES, JOHN CLEVELAND, BOSTON GREEN RIBBON COMMISSION 

The June 29th panel event launched a new Boston Green Ribbon Commission and A Better City report, Thermal Electrification of Large Buildings in the Commonwealth that analyses the current feasibility of thermal electrification in large buildings in the Commonwealth. With 51.6% of greenhouse gas emissions in the City of Boston in 2017 from commercial, industrial and large residential buildings, thermal electrification is considered a key pathway for reaching carbon neutrality goals by 2050.

Yve Torrie, Director of Climate, Energy & Resilience at A Better City provided an overview of the report that included the best technologies for our climate zone, barriers to adoption, and policy options and strategies that could be considered to overcome these barriers. She also introduced the five case studies in the report – four in existing buildings and one in new construction that show applicability across use type, at different stages of development and in varying stages of occupancy.

Ajey Pandey, Research Analyst at Cadmus and one of the lead authors on the report provided more detail on the thermal technologies themselves: those that fit best in our climate zone; those that fit best with each type of building; the technologies’ benefits and drawbacks; and some high-level costs. He then provided more detail on the barriers to adoption that include economic, policy and regulatory, decision making, awareness, technical and building, and workforce barriers.  Further detail was also provided about the kind of policies and strategies that could be considered to address these barriers that include the adoption of . . .

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EVENT RECAP: Design & Construction
July 08, 2020

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 24, 2020 | ZOOM MEETING
BRIAN BARRINGER, RYAN JENETTE, STEVE BURKE, CONSIGLI CONSTRUCTION
DAVID BOIS, ARROWSTREET

On Wednesday, June 24, Rick Dimino, President and CEO of A Better City, welcomed representatives of our members Consigli Construction and Arrowstreet to discuss implications of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on design and construction. Twenty-seven participants joined in the Zoom session.

Brian Barringer said that he and his colleagues have been offering information meetings to their clients describing work in progress in adapting to the implications of the pandemic. He introduced members of the team and described their roles. Mr. Barringer said that in 2019, Consigli had projects valued at $1.9 billion underway.  Arrowstreet has a wide-ranging practice that includes mixed-use, life science, and school projects as well as research in design. Mr. Barringer said that this is a rapidly changing world, and he will report on feedback from projects between Maine and DC.

David Bois discussed healthy buildings and the Passive House program that focuses on resilience, energy, and health, and on improving the building envelope with implications for interior spaces. Considerations include:

  • Increased 100% fresh air tempered with exhaust air in heat exchange.
  • Increased air filtration.
  • Compartmentalization with critical air linkages.
  • Displacement ventilation.
  • Overcoming limitations of existing buildings.

Steve Burke discussed Indoor Air Quality measures including energy recovery and a list of other IAQ measures.  Monitoring of air quality may become the responsibility of tenants, and owners will need to monitor common spaces too. There are many sources for guidance including professional organizations such as AIA, IFMA, BOMA, NAIOP, technical and construction organizations such as ASHRAE, Associated General Contractors, and . . .

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Member Spotlight: Architecture, Engineering, and Construction Firms & COVID-19
June 29, 2020

WRITTEN BY STEPHANIE EGGERS, FELLOW

ARCHITECTURE, ENGINEERING, & CONSTRUCTION
BR + A CONSULTING ENGINEERS
CBT ARCHITECTS
JACOBS
LENDLEASE
REDGATE
VHB

A Better City members continue to step up during these challenging times to help keep businesses and individuals afloat through the economic shutdown. This week’s spotlight focuses on the work of finance and banking institutions that are actively engaged in work to help clients navigate the economic downturn brought on by COVID-19 as well as provide public relief through online resources and donations to several funds related to COVID-19.

PUTTING COMMUNITY FIRST

Our members recognize the unique opportunities they have to make a positive impact in the community during the fight against COVID-19 to give people informative resources at staying home, ensure local frontline workers are properly protected, assist in expanding local communities’ ability to fight COVID-19, and aid in global relief efforts.

  • CBT ARCHITECTS have allowed their Model Shop . . .

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Statement | MBTA Ride Safer Campaign
June 24, 2020

The launch of the MBTA's Ride Safer campaign is a welcome development that addresses several of A Better City's recommendations—but the T must still go further, faster," said Rick Dimino, President and CEO of A Better City. "It is encouraging that the T will now be deploying Transit Ambassadors, providing hand sanitizer, and distributing masks in select locations—but the T should dramatically expand these efforts to serve riders throughout the entire transit system and throughout all phases of the reopening. Additionally, the real-time crowding information pilot is a step in the right direction, but the T needs to do more to ensure physical distancing, including installing signage and seat markers on vehicles, in stations, and at bus stops. Perhaps most importantly, is it imperative that the Ride Safer campaign be multi-media and multi-lingual to ensure the health and safety of all riders. A Better City will continue to work with the broader business community to encourage telecommuting and alternative work schedules to limit and shift demand for transit.
 
To learn more about the Ride Safer program, click

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Member Spotlight: Architecture, Engineering, and Construction Firms During COVID-19
June 18, 2020

Written by Stephanie Eggers, Fellow | Part 1 of 2 Highlights

A Better City members continue to step up during these challenging times to help keep businesses and individuals afloat through the economic shutdown. This week’s spotlight focuses on the work of finance and banking institutions that are actively engaged in work to help clients navigate the economic downturn brought on by COVID-19 as well as provide public relief through online resources and donations to several funds related to COVID-19.

PUTTING COMMUNITY FIRST

Our members recognize the unique opportunities they have to make a positive impact in the community during the fight against COVID-19 to ensure local frontline workers are properly protected and begin thinking of how to safely reopen workplaces for those currently at home.

  • AECOM has gained attention in the news for helping in numerous projects that support community relief including establishing temporary medical facilities in Colorado, New York, and Glasgow to support the COVID-19 response. They also supported the construction of non-acute care facilities for patients with symptoms in Rhode Island that helps protect residents. Within the company, executives at AECOM took a 20% pay cut to mitigate the economic impacts of the crisis.1
  • Arup worked to develop CareBox in the Northeast, a system designed to help hospitals and clinics rapidly expand critical care capacity that helps in quickly reacting to new waves of infection. Outside the U.S., they have partnered with proper NGOs and charities to help bring necessary healthcare support to a struggling community in Bangladesh, are using their AI building management technology in China for temperature checks as people returning to work enter office buildings, and have joined a team in the UK to produce new medical shields to better protect . . .

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