Final BERDO Regulations, Key Takeaways, and Next Steps

Over the past two year, A Better City has leveraged the expertise of many A Better City members to help inform the City of Boston’s Building Emissions Reduction and Disclosure Ordinance (BERDO 2.0) regulatory process, culminating in the adoption of final regulations and polices on December 20, 2023. Developed in phases, the final Phase 3 of BERDO 2.0 regulations began in March 2023 and worked through the complex topics of Building Portfolios, Individual Compliance Schedules, Hardship Compliance Plans, the Equitable Emissions Investment Fund, Fines and Enforcement, and Compliance with Emissions Standards. Previous blogposts provide summaries of A Better City’s work on BERDO 2.0 from the Ordinance’s signing on October 6, 2021, to the beginning stages of Phase 3 regulations, and include:

Throughout the Phase 3 regulatory process, A Better City submitted six comment letters on: (1) Preliminary Proposals to Building Portfolios & Individual Compliance Schedules (6.16.2023); (2) Draft Regulations and Policies for Building Portfolios & Individual Compliance Schedules (08.11.2023); (3) Building Portfolios and Individual Compliance Schedules, and Preliminary Comments on Hardship Compliance and the Equitable Emissions Investment Fund (09.15.2023); (4) Draft Regulations on the Hardship Compliance Pathway and the Equitable Emissions Investment Fund (10.20.2023); (5) Hardship Compliance Plan Draft Policies and Application Form, and Preliminary Proposals for Fines and Enforcement (11.09.2023); and (6) Draft Regulations on Hardship Compliance Plans, the Equitable Emissions Investment Fund, Fines and Enforcement, Draft Hardship Compliance Plan Policies, and the Hardship Compliance Plan Draft Application (12.13.2023). In addition, A Better City supported three candidates in their application to the BERDO Review Board, one of whom was successfully appointed.

key takeaways:

  • Thank You to A Better City members. A Better City’s ability to provide comments at every stage of the regulatory process was only possible with the robust engagement of our members who provided both high level comments and in-depth technical details. This allowed us to dig into regulatory details, to understand how the details would and wouldn’t impact large buildings, to understand challenges, and to work on solutions. With the business community at the table throughout this regulatory process, our comments were able to reflect A Better City’s strategic and solutions-oriented approach.
  • Congratulations to the City of Boston’s BERDO team. Led by Commissioner Alison Brizius, the City’s BERDO team conducted a collaborative and transparent regulatory process, providing extensive opportunity for stakeholder engagement while being responsive to comments received, stakeholder requests for additional large group and individual meetings, and additional comment time requests. The regulatory process is likely to be used as a model for other jurisdictions.

next steps:

  • Supporting covered buildings compliance with BERDO 2.0 Emissions Standards.
    • Calculating Building Emissions: In 2025, commercial buildings 35,000 square feet or larger, and residential buildings 35 or more units will be required to comply with an emissions standard. In 2030, residential buildings 20,000-34,999 square feet, and residential buildings 15-34 units will be required to comply with an emissions standard.
    • Complying with BERDO Emissions: Covered buildings have a variety of compliance mechanisms: directly reducing emissions produced by the building; purchasing eligible renewable energy; or making an Alternative Compliance Payment. BERDO Flexibility Measures include Blended Emissions Standards; Building Portfolios; Individual Compliance Schedules; and Hardship Compliance Plans.
    • Additional Resources:
      • The BERDO Application Page has online application forms for Building Portfolios and Individual Compliance Schedules. Applications for Hardship Compliance Plans are available in a PDF format. Juily 1, 2024 is the deadline for Hardship Compliance Plan applications. September 1, 2024, is the deadline for Building Portfolio and Individual Compliance Plan applications.
      • A webinar series is being offered for flexibility measures: Register for Building Portfolios on January 17th from 3-4.30 PM; register for Individual Compliance Schedules on January 31st from 3-4.30 PM; register for Hardship Compliance Plans on February 14th from 3-4.30 PM, and register for Renewable Energy on February 28th from 3-4.30PM.
      • The BERDO Team is offering individual building emissions consultations and are holding weekly BERDO Emissions Planning Office Hours on Fridays at 10 AM. Click here to register.
    • A Better City will be leading the Review Board’s Commercial Real Estate Working Group. The City of Boston has asked A Better City to chair a Commercial Real Estate Working Group to advise the Building Emissions Reduction and Disclosure Ordinance (BERDO) Review Board. Kate Dineen and Yve Torrie will be responsible for convening the group, leading discussions regarding topics and potential issues that arise for commercial real estate stakeholders and providing reports and updates to the Review Board. We are currently working to assemble a Working Group representing interests from commercial real estate, large residential, affordable housing, mixed use, hospitality, higher education, property management, and assembly. The kick-off meeting is scheduled for the end of January 2024.
    • Lessons learned from BERDO 2.0 will be applied to other building sector emissions reduction policies. A Better City invested substantial time and resources in shaping BERDO 2.0 regulations because members and staff understand the importance of building sector emissions reductions to achieving both climate goals and economic competitiveness. Other jurisdictions will be applying lessons learned from this regulatory process to their own developing policies, so it was important to provide as much input as possible to get this right. A Better City staff have also been able to apply lessons learned throughout this process to inform comments on other building policies during this period, including BEUDO in Cambridge, the Clean Energy and Climate Plan, the updated Stretch Energy Code and Opt-In Specialized Stretch Energy Code, and Boston’s draft Zero Net Carbon Zoning

For any questions, please contact Yve Torrie.


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