On Thursday, July 22nd, the Boston City Council Committee on Government Operations held a hearing on Docket #0775, Ordinance Amending City of Boston Code, Ordinances, Chapter VII, Sections 7-2.1 and 7-2.2, Building Energy Reporting and Disclosure (BERDO). The Chair of the Committee was Councilor Lydia Edwards. The sponsor of the docket was Councilor Matt O'Malley.
A Better City has been engaging members about a proposed BERDO Ordinance Amendment since fall 2020, when technical advisory groups and public meetings began being held. In January 2021, an initial draft of the Buildings Emissions Performance Standard, part of the updates to the Ordinance, was released; A Better City provided comments to this in June 2021.
Notification of the BERDO Amendment was submitted to City Council on June 14th and discussed at their June 16th meeting. There was broad support from a number of City Councilors.
A public hearing was then held on July 22nd. At this four-hour meeting, a broad range of stakeholders offered support to the Amendment. Yve Torrie offered the following verbal comments on behalf of A Better City:
”A Better City is a business membership organization with 130 of Boston’s business leaders. We applaud the City’s efforts to achieve a carbon neutral economy by 2050 and understand that decarbonizing the built environment is an essential step in realizing climate targets at a City and State level.
A Better City was instrumental in gaining business support for BERDO prior to its passage in 2013. Most of our member buildings have reported, disclosed and complied with the current BERDO Ordinance and we look forward to working closely with City Council and the City’s Energy & Environment Department again to move the Amendment forward in a solutions-oriented way that is workable for all our communities.
Our members would like to continue to work on some aspects of the Amendment, further details of which are in written comments. These include:
• Clarification on the function and tasks of the Review Board and the City so we can ensure the right combination of experts on the Review Board;
• Added specificity and transparency to the Equitable Emissions Investment Fund distribution;
• Further clarification on definitions, applications and approvals, and the role of tenants;
• Ensuring bundled RECs from PPAs outside of New England are allowable; and
• A placeholder to review carbon offsets with an emphasis on removals in the future given 10% of the city’s emissions will need to be addressed with tools like carbon offsets by 2050.
Regarding the process, we would also like clarification on the:
• Development and timeline of regulations;
• Staff capacity in the City’s Environment Department to handle 1,300 additional buildings; and
• Whether these clarifications may have City Council reconsider the Amendment’s implementation timeline.
Working to make these clarifications will help large buildings remain in compliance and importantly, maximize decarbonization potential, essential for the safety and health of all our communities.
We look forward to the working sessions to come. Thank you for your time.”
More detailed written comments were submitted on July 28th.