A Better City staff have been tracking the City of Cambridge Building Energy Use Disclosure Ordinance (BEUDO) amendment process, which applies to Cambridge’s existing buildings over 25,000 square feet or 50 units, since our last blogpost in July 2022. Over the last several months, Cambridge City Manager, Yi-An Huang, and the City’s Community Development Department (CDD) staff have worked with BEUDO buildings in Cambridge to develop a draft BEUDO Ordinance proposal that provides more flexibility in meeting net zero goals than the ones previously offered by Councilors Zondervan and Nolan since February 2022. The details of this new proposal can be found on slides 34-64 of a slide deck presented at the Cambridge Ordinance Committee meeting on April 12, 2023. A summary of the proposal can be found in the modified 2035 proposal column of slide 66 in the same deck.

In summary, the new proposal suggests BEUDO commercial buildings over 100,000 square feet be net zero by 2035; all other BEUDO buildings (25,000-100,000 square feet commercial buildings and 50+ unit rental residential buildings) are not required to be net zero until 2050. Large commercial buildings over 100,000 square feet, are, however, allowed to purchase a declining amount of carbon offsets from 2035-2050 to offset on-site fossil fuel emissions. There is also flexibility in the baseline, campus pathways, alternative compliance credit payment deferrals, and some exemptions. The new proposal also suggests the creation of a Review Board of five technical experts, two business representatives, and two advocates. It also suggests a policy review be completed by May 1, 2032, to consider compliance with ordinance requirements, economics, and technology. 

Yve Torrie provided public comments on behalf of A Better City at the April 12th meeting and sent written comments. She reiterated A Better City’s support of the City of Boston and Commonwealth’s goal of achieving net zero in existing buildings by 2050 and stated that in most cases a 2035 net zero goal for existing buildings is not currently technically feasible. If Cambridge moves forward with a 2035 goal for existing buildings, however, she stated that the approach laid out by the City Manager and CDD team on April 12th would be a better pathway to follow than that proposed by Councilors Zondervan and Nolan as it allows flexibility including the use of offsets for fossil fuel use, exemptions, baseline options, and a 2032 review.  

For next steps, the City Council Ordinance Committee will be meeting again about BEUDO on Wednesday, April 26, 2023 at 3PM. There will be no public comments at this meeting. Please contact Yve Torrie with any questions.


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