On Monday, December 14th, A Better City co-hosted an event with the City of Boston and the Institute for Market Transformation (IMT) to update commercial tenants on the City of Boston’s Buildings Emissions Performance Standard - a draft of which is to be released in December 2020 - and what it will mean for them. This standard, currently in development, sets carbon targets for existing buildings to decrease over time in an effort to tackle the City’s largest source of emissions: buildings.

Ben Silverman, Climate and Buildings Program Manager in the City of Boston’s Environment Department, introduced the Emissions Performance Standard for Large Buildings, the goals of which include: lowering greenhouse gas emissions from the largest buildings, helping to improve indoor air quality for tenants and occupants, spurring green jobs, and creating new opportunities for commercial tenants and building owners to collaborate on achieving the City of Boston’s decarbonization goals. 

Audi Banny, Associate Director of Private Sector Engagement at IMT, then gave an overview of their work with owners and tenants. As 50-80% of energy used in large buildings is on the tenant side, a lot of work needs to be done with tenants to ensure that emission reduction goals are met in the building sector. IMT’s Green Lease Leaders Program has worked with tenants and landlords to develop new green leases that identify win-win efficiencies in energy, water, and health that include equitable cost-share solutions. For existing leases, they are starting to explore alternative financing options to invest in energy efficiency projects mid-lease, utility incentives, and both energy and water audits to develop tenant space baselines.

The engaging conversation that followed the presentations included key topics:

  • Case studies – participants requested case studies on green leasing, contract negotiations, decarbonization challenges, outcomes, and successes so that guidance can be developed.
  • Regulations – most leases are governed by a set of temperature set points recommended by ASHRAE; there was a suggestion that these could be revisited and be more prescriptive.
  • Legal – a question arose about who the primary actor would be for compliance with long-term net leases – owner or tenant. The answer, it seems, is determined by the construction of the lease.
  • Engagement and education – both owners and tenants agreed that tenants do not usually understand the energy use in a building and that landlords need to educate them.

As a next step, it was agreed that utilities, brokers, tenants, and developers all need to be involved in discussing this standard together.

If you have any questions, please contact Yve Torrie.

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