Boston Announces Next Step in Adopting Opt-In Specialized Stretch Energy Code
March 21, 2023



Last week, Mayor Wu announced that Boston will be pursuing the Opt-In Specialized Stretch Energy Code (Specialized Code), finalized by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) late last year.  Many A Better City members worked with us throughout 2022 to provide comments on the updated Stretch Code for all green communities and the Specialized Code that communities can opt-in to that builds on the updated Stretch Code. The updated Stretch Code came into effect for residential buildings in January 2023, and will come into effect for commercial buildings on July 1, 2023.. A Better City blogposts written in August and December 2022 document the development of these codes, along with A Better City’s comments and results of the comments.

The summary of the two codes shows that in addition to the changes made under the updated Stretch Energy Code, the Specialized Code will require most commercial buildings to be electrification ready (pre-wiring) and have solar on-site (where feasible). See below.

DOER Specialized Commercial Code Graphic

Brookline, Watertown, and Cambridge have already voted to adopt this code. This Wednesday, March 22nd, the Specialized Code Ordinance will be read into the Boston City Council record. A vote is required by City Council to approve this.  If City Council . . .


MBTA Speed Restrictions Update
March 20, 2023


  • On Friday 3/10, the MBTA held a press conference to announce the implementation of widespread speed restrictions following an inspection by the Department of Public Utilities that reportedly identified problems on a stretch of Red Line track between Ashmont and Savin Hill stations. The MBTA made the decision to implement speed restrictions across all subway lines because they could not verify which parts of the system were safe for full-speed travel due to reported documentation gaps and inconsistencies.   
  • On Thursday 3/16, the 


Statement on Healey-Driscoll Administration’s Appointments to the DPU
March 15, 2023

"It is encouraging to see the Healey-Driscoll Administration taking steps to transform the DPU, which will play a critical role in enhancing the safety and reliability of the MBTA and ensuring the Commonwealth achieves its ambitious climate goals," said Kate Dineen, A Better City Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. "With the addition of our colleague Staci Rubin as well as legal and regulatory expert Jamie Van Nostrand, the DPU will be well positioned to lead on climate, transportation, and equity, improving our economic competitiveness and quality of . . .


Statement on MBTA Speed Restrictions
March 10, 2023


"Frustration is at an all-time high and patience is at an all-time low for employees and employers alike," said Kate Dineen, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of A Better City. "Continued safety findings and service disruptions are making it even more difficult for people to live, work, and visit Greater Boston. We appreciate the state's enhanced safety auditing protocols and improved transparency, but we remain deeply concerned by the safety and state of good repair issues that continue to plague the system. We expect the T to provide the public with frequent updates on completing the urgent inspections and trackwork, as well as the referenced investigation into troubling documentation gaps and inconsistencies. The new General Manager and Safety Chief must continue to enhance transparency and prioritize safety, service, and staffing to get the T back on track for our economy and our . . .


Governor Healey’s Budget Recommendations & Transportation Plans
March 09, 2023

Written by Tom Ryan, Senior Advisor on Policy, Government & Community Affairs, & Isabella Gambill, Assistant Director of Climate, Energy & Resilience 


Last week, Governor Healey released her budget recommendations for state government in fiscal year 2024. The administration’s proposal includes substantial new investments in transportation, environment, and clean energy programs. Many of these specific plans are consistent with A Better City’s priorities and ideas presented in our State Government Transition Report. 

Also part of this budget plan, the governor released a substantial tax reform plan that is designed to improve affordability, competitiveness, and equity in the Commonwealth.  

Through this link you can find the Governor’s full Budget and supporting documents. 

Here is a link to the Governor’s Tax Reform Plan. 

Transportation Budget Priorities  

Governor Healey’s transportation budget includes funding to advance design work on the MBTA’s Red-Blue Connector project, begin a means-tested fare discounts for MBTA riders, establish a new state task force to pursue federal infrastructure grants, and increase funding for roads and bridge maintenance.  

This is also the first time Massachusetts can spend money from the Fair Share Amendment ballot question, which created a four percent surcharge on income earned above $1 million. Governor Healey recommends spending $1 billion generated from this new surcharge, with $490 million directed to new transportation initiatives. The fact that Governor Healey is . . .


PowerCorpsBOS Building Operations Pilot Kickoff
February 23, 2023

Written by Yve Torrie, Director of CLimate, Energy, and resilience


A Better City is excited to be partnering with PowerCorps Boston and Roxbury Community College’s Center for Smart Building Technology on a new building operations pilot within the PowerCorps Boston program. A kick-off event for the building operations tract was held at Roxbury Community College (RCC) on February 13th  and was attended by building operator program trainees and trainers, building partners who will provide in-service learning opportunities within large buildings, and City of Boston, Roxbury Community College and A Better City leadership.

PowerCorps Boston is a green jobs program that provides young adults from marginalized communities who are unemployed, underemployed, not in college or a career track, with career readiness training. It launched in July 2022 with a 6-month urban forestry tract. It is modeled after the Philadelphia PowerCorps PHL program. The January-June 2023 program included a building operations pilot.

A Better City’s involvement stemmed from our business and institutional members who, over 6 years ago, alerted us to the need for a new or re-trained workforce that could keep increasingly smart, high-performance, and high-tech buildings operating at peak efficiency. They saw this as the next “low hanging fruit in energy efficiency”. We then worked with RCC, an ABC member, as well as other partners and stakeholders in the development of the Center for Smart Building Technology at RCC. In 2019, we also worked with about 35 staff from A Better City member buildings to take a Building Operator Certification training funded by the utilities.

Nearly 3 years ago, as part of A Better City’s Equity in the Built . . .


Energy & Environment Policy Agenda
February 23, 2023

Written by Isabella Gambill, Assistant Director of Climate, Energy & Resilience

In service of A Better City’s mission to ensure the equitable long-term growth, sustainability, economic vitality and competitiveness of Greater Boston, A Better City's Energy & Environment Unit advocates for legislative change, provides technical expertise to government administrators, supports and partners with community-based organizations and community leaders, and ensures that members are engaged with climate and clean energy policy and climate justice opportunities through their organizations and across the Greater Boston business community. A Better City's 2023 Energy & Environmental Policy Agenda, developed in coordination with the Energy & Environment Advisory Committee, will guide this work. For more information, contact Isabella Gambill (, Assistant Director of Climate, Energy, & . . .


Transportation & Infrastructure Policy Agenda
February 22, 2023

Written by Caitlin Allen-Connelly, Senior Advisor on Transportation

The future prosperity of the Commonwealth is directly related to the strength, reliability, and affordability of the statewide transportation system. Today, our statewide transportation system is in crisis and needs rebuilding, including improvements to the public transit system and opportunities to build the future network of roads, bridges, transit, and connections for bicycles and pedestrians. A Better City's 2023 Transportation & Infrastructure Policy Agenda, developed in coordination with the Transportation & Infrastructure Advisory Committee, supports a forward-thinking approach to delivering major transportation infrastructure projects while reducing carbon emissions, managing traffic congestion, supporting transportation equity, and addressing affordable housing needs throughout the Commonwealth. For more information, contact Caitlin Allen-Connelly (, Senior Advisor on . . .


Land Use and Development Advisory Committee Discusses Proposed City Planning Changes
February 22, 2023

Written by Tom Nally, Senior Advisor

The Land Use and Development Advisory Committee met for the first time this year on February 9. Staff presented the 2023 Work Plan for Land Use and Development that includes a list of potential topics for the year, and asked for help to set priorities for attention. Kate Dineen also summarized comments submitted to the City of Boston on the proposed changes to linkage payments for affordable housing and workforce training associated with new commercial development.

Interest of the committee members focused on the proposals for changing the way that planning is implemented, which has recently been advanced by Mayor Wu in her State of the City Address, an Executive Order, and Home Rule Petition submitted to City Council. The committee engaged in a lively discussion that covered a range of topics including:

  • Realism in planning that recognizes current conditions
  • Relationship of regulations and the capital market
  • Linkage and timing of implementing changes
  • Relationship of transportation (the commute) to Downtown occupancy and vitality
  • Zoning changes to support appropriate development
  • Development and impact on city fiscal health
  • Staff resources to support the planning and regulatory . . .


Public Comments: City of Boston Proposed Linkage Increase
February 22, 2023

Written by Kate Dineen, Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer

Mayor Wu recently proposed changes to the City of Boston’s linkage policy, including lowering the threshold and exemption from 100,000 square feet to 50,000 square feet and increasing the total linkage fee over two years to $30.78 per square foot for lab space, and to $23.09 for other commercial uses, up from $15.39. Please see A Better City's public comments here, raising concerns particularly in light of broader economic . . .