Article 37 Zoning Update and Zero Net Carbon Policy and Standards

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


On September 28, 2022, the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) released the proposed Article 37 Zoning Update and Zero Net Carbon Policy & Standards for new construction for public review and comment. In addition, the BPDA released the final report of the Zero Net Carbon (ZNC) Building Zoning Initiative, which is the final version of the recommendations from four Technical Advisory Groups (TAGs): Low Carbon Buildings; On-Site Renewable Energy; Renewable Energy Procurement; and Embodied Carbon Reduction. A Better City hosted a working session on the draft TAG recommendations in December 2021.  

A public meeting and listening sessions were held by BPDA staff throughout September and October 2022, to discuss the newly released zoning update, policy, and standards. Additionally, meetings were held with various stakeholder groups including A Better City and its members. On October 17th, John Dalzell, the BPDA’s Senior Architect for Sustainable Development, gave the following presentation to A Better City members, followed by a robust discussion.

Questions raised at that meeting on October 17th, along numerous other comments received from members were compiled into A Better City’s comments on the proposed article 37 Zoning Update and Zero Net Carbon Policy and Standards, submitted to the BPDA on October 27th. A Better City’s included both some overarching comments and more technical comments, specific to the zoning, policy and standards themselves:

  • Requesting clarity about how the Zero Net Carbon Zoning, Policy, and Standards will work across legislative, administrative, and regulatory agencies, especially the recently updated Stretch Energy Code and Municipal Opt-In Stretch Energy Code.
  • Requesting the specifics of the Advisory Committee be detailed.
  • Requesting clarity and details on the transition from a ZNC building to a BERDO 2.0 building.
  • Recommending that tax credits or other incentives be considered for ZNC Zoning.
  • Recommending that the City carefully identify, examine, and share building-specific case studies by use type, along with associated costs that demonstrate proof-of-concept in all commercial building types before finalizing ZNC standards.
  • Recommending the BPDA provides clarity about the conditions under which ZNC rooftop solar exemptions can be pursued and what the process for doing so will be.
  • Recommending the BPDA works with Eversource to understand their ability to add load to substations serving Boston’s buildings to ensure interconnectivity issues do not arise and interfere with on-site renewable requirement.
  • Requesting clarity about the applicable threshold for renovations and any opportunities for incentives or special consideration for major renovations.
  • Recommending wet labs be included in the 30% carbon emissions reduction category.
  • Requesting LEED Gold be considered for buildings 25,000 or 30,000 square feet and above while buildings 20,000 square feet be allowed to pursue other avenues and design strategies to become ZNC.
  • Recommending that embodied carbon best practices are proven in concept, awareness is increased, and markets are further developed in Massachusetts to support the inclusion of embodied carbon in large buildings, before any embodied carbon standards are developed.

Regarding next steps, the comment period closed on October 28th. The posting of comments, updates and next steps are expected November 2022. For any comments or questions, please contact Yve Torrie.



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