A research team led by UMass Boston recently released the highly anticipated Greater Boston Research Advisory Group Report (GBRAG) entitled Climate Change Impacts and Projections for the Greater Boston Area, a five-year update to research on likely climate changes in the Boston area. The report’s purpose is to provide the City of Boston and surrounding municipalities with updated information that can be used to inform near-term and long-term strategies to address climate mitigation and resilience. The 2022 report scope was broadened from the first, 2016 BRAG report to include Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) cities and towns.
The report delivers detailed information on projected changes over this century to temperature, storms and precipitation, flooding, sea-level rise, and groundwater in the Greater Boston area. In addition to reaffirming the necessity of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050, the report highlights familiar warnings around increased frequency of extreme weather events and coastal flooding, but also spotlights underreported climate risks like decreased groundwater recharge, which has far-reaching consequences for infrastructure, agriculture, the availability of drinking water, and more.
This GRCx program, co-sponsored with A Better City, provided an overview of report findings related to temperature, storms and precipitation, flooding, sea-level rise and groundwater from the lead report authors, Ellen Douglas and Paul Kirshen. A panel discussion with the subject matter experts from each report section (temperature, storms, and precipitation, flooding, sea-level rise and groundwater) followed.
Associate Dean and Professor of Hydrology
UMass Boston School for the Environment
Professor of Climate Adaptation
UMass Boston School for the Environment
UMass Lowell College of Sciences
Affiliated Investigator and Research Assistant Professor
UMass Amherst College of Natural Sciences
Professor and Co-Director
UMass Amherst School of Earth & Sustainability
Principal and Senior Scientist
JFK Environmental Services LLC
East Boston Branch of the Boston Public Library, 365 South Bremen Street, Boston, MA 02128
At the Open House folks learned about flooding in East Boston and provided input on green solutions to help address flooding challenges to local public transportation.
This work is part of a research project conducted by A Better City with Civic Space Collaborative and Weston&Sampson with funding made possible by UMass Boston’s Stone Living Lab.
On Thursday, February 24th, A Better City welcomed Chris Cook, Executive Director, and Dr. Audrey Lopez, Director and Curator of Public Art of the Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy. In our meeting, we discussed upcoming programming and events that are planned for this spring, as well as how the parks continue to evolve.
As part of A Better City's Boston Forward Together speaker series, we were pleased to welcome Martha J. Sheridan, President & CEO of the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau on Monday, December 6th from 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM. In our program, we addressed the 2021 and 2022 visitation and tourism trends, along with convention related economic projections.
Using COVID as a catalyst, the City of Boston took advantage of reduced traffic volumes to rethink how our streets – the largest portion of public space in the city – can and should work. Miles of dedicated bicycle and bus lanes were installed, improving the safety and overall efficiency of these modes. Similar improvements in communities throughout the metro-region and across the Commonwealth have accelerated roadway updates and a comprehensive network supporting non-SOV options is taking shape.
A Better City held an insightful discussion on what can happen when we prioritize the movement of people on our roadways over the movement and storage of cars, and what the future might hold when we do.
Jackie DeWolfe, Director of New Mobility, MassDOT
Marah Holland, Transportation Planner, MAPC
Dominic Tribone, GM East, Lyft Bikes & Scooters, Operator of BlueBikes
A Better City, the Black Economic Council of Massachusetts, and CommonWealth Magazine, held the Building Boston’s Economic Future for Everyone: 2021 Mayoral Forum on Thursday, September 9th. All five of the prominent candidates for Mayor were invited to participate in an in-person forum at Roxbury Community College.
This program focused on major issues related to the economy, equity, and the quality of life challenges facing the City of Boston.
As part of A Better City's Boston Forward Together speaker series, we were pleased to welcome Dr. Ted C. Landsmark, Distinguished Professor of Public Policy and Urban Affairs and Director of the Kitty and Michael Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy at Northeastern University on Thursday, June 10th.
The City of Boston and many of its partners have worked diligently over the last few years to understand the projected climate impacts and the neighborhoods that will be most affected. Plans have been developed for the neighborhoods identified as most vulnerable to coastal flooding and a study is underway for neighborhoods most vulnerable to extreme heat. Now is the time to move from planning to implementation.
As we welcome the next mayor to the City of Boston in November, the Boston Green Ribbon Commission and A Better City convened a panel to suggest a set of resiliency recommendations for action.
As part of A Better City's new Boston Forward Together speaker series, we hosted a special webinar with Josiane Martinez, Founder and CEO of Archipelago Strategies Group.
To launch A Better City's new Boston Forward Together speaker series, we welcomed Paul Grogan, President & CEO of The Boston Foundation and co-author of Comeback Cities: A Blueprint for Urban Revival.
On April 5th, 2021, A Better City and A Better City TMA hosted members of the Boston Transportation Department who shared their new TDM Point System. Earlier this year, BTD unveiled a new approach to transportation development review guidelines for new developments over 50,000 sq ft. The new system brings consistent and transparent standards based on a comprehensive scoring regime that recognizes the unique constraints and opportunities of each parcel. We were joined for a conversation with the architects and implementers of this innovative new system:
BTD Director of Planning, Vineet Gupta
BTD Planner, New Mobility Team, Alaa Mukahhal
Ease Consult Principal, Allison Simmons
As the Commonwealth moves toward reopening, the MBTA Commuter Rail plays a vital role in facilitating the return of workers to the workplace. Keolis, the MBTA’s Commuter Rail operator, is developing a new service model that provides steady service throughout the day and allows for the operational flexibility the system will need to quickly and safely respond to incremental increases in demand. This spring, the Commuter Rail will be piloting so-called “clock-face service” at regular intervals and increased bi-directional travel options on several lines in an attempt to meet and anticipate evolving commuter needs.
A Better City welcomed Keolis General Manager for Commuter Services, David Scorey, to another edition of A Better City Conversations to discuss the planned changes to Commuter Rail service, as well as potential future opportunities.
A Better City welcomed MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak to discuss the MBTA's efforts to provide service throughout the pandemic and to plan for the return to the workplace.
The Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) recently launched the Zero Net Carbon Building Zoning Initiative to assess and identify strategies to strengthen Boston's existing green building zoning requirements to a zero net carbon standard for new construction. This will advance practices to meet the City of Boston’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2050.
In 2020 we saw many municipal and nonprofit leaders implement rapid response placemaking and tactical placemaking projects as a result of the global pandemic. As a result, many business districts were buzzing with people while social distancing and supporting local businesses. To create the tactical placemaking projects there were several key sources of funding to implement these projects including funding from funding directly from municipalities, the Barr Foundation, the Solomon Foundation, MassDOT, MassDev, and crowdfunding. This winter was a great time to pause, reflect, evaluate, and improve on the placemaking and tactical urbanism projects implemented in 2020.
The City of Boston launched a process to update the Building Energy Reporting and Disclosure Ordinance (BERDO) that A Better City has been very engaged in through an Efficient and Resilient Buildings Policy Working Group made up of A Better City and Green Ribbon Commission Commercial Real Estate Working Group members. The City is interested in engaging all covered building owners, managers, tenants, and other parties as part of this process.
In the City's 2019 Climate Action Plan Update they committed to developing a building emissions performance standard. A building emissions performance standard sets carbon targets for existing buildings that decrease over time (You can check out the recording from the public presentation on the standard here).
In light of current market realities, proactive management of energy spending is a key lever for organizations to reduce costs and limit budget uncertainty. While broader sustainability strategies may be paused right now, options still exist for organizations in the Boston area to support the continued greening of the local grid with little financial risk. Join us for an A Better City Conversations program and discussion with CustomerFirst Renewables to learn more about three opportunities:
• Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) community solar program
• Massachusetts Clean Peak Energy Standard (CPS) with onsite battery storage
• Understanding and eliminating inefficiencies in retail energy supply (electricity and natural gas)
Total annual usage of at least 5,000 MWh / 5M kWh (SMART, retail procurements); monthly peak demand of at least 700-800 kW (CPS). Please also note that SMART and CPS are only available to customers served by Eversource, National Grid, or Unitil. Organizations that are served by a municipal utility or fully self-generate their electricity are ineligible.
Friday, October 16th, 2020 | WATCH
The city after COVID-19: How will the pandemic impact the built environment? Will the home office mean the end of city office space? Will less office and retail space mean more residential housing and green spaces? And how can smart technology make a city pandemic resilient, ensure public health in the working and living environment and keep citizens safe in their daily interactions with the city?
Friday, October 9th, 2020 | 9 AM – 10:15 AM | RECAP
A Better City welcomed members and the general public for an A Better City Conversations: I-90 Allston Project: Riverfront Analysis + Design Exploration with cbt & Perkins&Will. We were joined by panelists Gautam Sundaram, Principal, Urban Design of Perkins&Will, Devanshi Purohit, Senior Associate & Senior Urban Designer, and Kishore Varanasi, Principal, Director of Urban Design of cbt to discuss the I-90 Allston Project.
Massachusetts has potential to lead the nation in offshore wind. But what would that mean for our economy and our businesses?
At this meeting, we heard from business, government, and industry experts about how offshore wind could:
At this meeting, attendees learned about recent tactical public realm projects that have moved from design to implementation in 2019. In September 2018, the City of Boston released the “Tactical Public Realm Guidelines,” which have been instrumental for creating new spaces across the city. A Better City hosted a panel of experts who have worked on public realm projects, including a pedestrian plaza on Birch Street in Roslindale, parklet in Jamaica Plain, and one-day pop-up plazas across the city. There were breakout groups that discussed project specifics, including permitting, project costs, funding, timelines, community input, and materials.
Panel, presentations, and keynotes included:
As a follow-up to a panel discussion held by A Better City in November 2015, this event brought together some of the Boston area’s key infrastructure providers to discuss progress made in climate-resilient planning, design, and implementation—and the work that still lies ahead.
The panel aimed to explore strategies for supporting coordinated, regional efforts to improve resiliency in the face of growing climate impacts.
Dr. Valerie Roberson, President of Roxbury Community College, kicked off the event and delivered introductory remarks.
Kate Dineen, Executive Vice President of A Better City, moderated the panel, which included:
Climate Ready Boston is the Mayor’s ongoing initiative to get the City ready for the long-term impacts of climate change. At the event, we heard about the proposed resilience planning options for Boston’s Downtown and North End. Alisha Pegan, Climate Ready Boston Coordinator, and Joe Christo, Senior Resilience and Waterfront Planner, Boston Planning & Development Agency, discussed the options for the neighborhoods that include the West End and North End, the Financial District, Wharf District, Chinatown, and the Leather District. Downtown is highly exposed to sea-level rise impacts due to the area's extensive low-lying coastline, and exposure to flooding from the Charles River, Boston Harbor, and Fort Point Channel. This event provided a great opportunity for business leaders to provide input during the planning phase!
Read the event recap here
A Better City hosted a Discussion Panel Event: Powering the Future: Electrifying and Expanding the MBTA Bus Network on Wednesday, August 7th from 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM at the BSA Space located inside Atlantic Wharf. This event was held in tandem with the release of the new report produced by A Better City titled: New MBTA Bus Maintenance Facilities & Evolving Battery Electric Bus Technology. A series of short presentations were made on topics related to the need for bus maintenance modernization and the challenges and opportunities of moving towards an electric bus fleet, followed by a moderated panel discussion.
E-Bus Barriers & Enablers presented by Camron Gorguinpour, PhD., Senior Global Manager, Electric Vehicles, World Resources Institute
MBTA Bus Facility Modernization Program and Bus Fleet Update/Plans presented by Erik Stoothoff, Chief Engineer, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority and William Wolfgang, Director, Vehicle Engineering, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority
The Climate Emergency and Bus Electrification presented by Michael Kodransky, U.S. Director, Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, New York, NY
Why MBTA Should Recharge its Fleet Electrification Efforts presented by Veena Dharmaraj, Conservation and Development Program Manager, Sierra Club, Massachusetts Chapter, Boston, MA
New MBTA Bus Maintenance Facilities & Evolving Battery Electric Bus Technology presented by Glen Berkowitz, Project Manager, A Better City and Marc DeSchamp, Project Manager, Transit and Rail, Bus Practice Lead, Jacobs
With the rapid progression of internet communications technology, the transportation landscape in Metro Boston has shifted dramatically to incorporate real-time information sharing into digital mobility platforms. From ride-hailing to bike sharing, it's sometimes hard to keep up with new developments in the personal mobility sector. One mode that has yet to experience this high tech influence is old-fashioned carpooling between peers-until now. On March 21, A Better City TMA and Allston Brighton TMA co-sponsored a panel where we heard from rising leaders in this space at Waze Carpool, rideamigos and Scoop about how their platforms are rethinking carpooling and what it could mean for our city. Special thanks to the Broad Institute for hosting the event.
On the morning of March 6th, the A Better City Transportation Advisory Committee invited members to attend an intimate conversation with Steve Kadish, Chair of Governor Baker’s Commission on the Future of Transportation. In the presentation, Chairman Kadish broke down the commission's 5 major categories with a total of 18 recommendations. Kathryn Carlson and Tom Ryan of A Better City discussed the Update on Transporation Finance working document, notable coverage and how A Better City’s transportation efforts can advance and implement report goals into action. You can view the presentation here and read the entire recap here.
On February 12, A Better City hosted a meeting about the findings from the recently released Carbon Free Boston report, and the next steps the City is planning to build on these findings. The Boston Green Ribbon Commission was asked by Mayor Marty Walsh to undertake this report. They selected the Institute for Sustainable Energy at Boston University to conduct the deep research, modeling, and analysis of the buildings, electric power, transportation, and waste sectors to understand their greenhouse gas emission contributions and potential pathways to reach the City’s carbon neutrality goal by 2050. Read the event recap here and view the slides here.
On November 14th, A Better City welcomed global transit experts to discuss lessons learned in reimagining and rebuilding regional rail systems as part of the Partners in Public Dialogue series at the Old South Meeting House. Read the entire event recap here and review the slides here.
On Tuesday, April 17, a full house of commercial facility owners and managers, and energy storage experts and vendors joined A Better City, Boston Green Ribbon Commission, and Sustainable Buildings Initiative members and partners at Wilmer Hale for a panel event and the launch of A Better City's new report, Harnessing the Power of Energy Storage in Boston's Commercial Buildings.
Attendees heard from expert speakers on two panels. The first panel explored current Massachusetts policies, incentives, and the economics for energy storage systems in Boston.
The second panel highlighted examples of cutting-edge projects recently implemented in the Boston area that utilize financing models ranging from direct ownership to shared savings agreements.
Panelists shared key storage use cases for commercial buildings, including demand management, grid services, and emergency power for resiliency. They underscored that energy storage provides commercial building owners with flexibility to deliver power where and when it is needed at a given time. One of the key takeaways from the discussions is that energy storage has reached a tipping point where many commercial building owners in Boston can realize cost effective paybacks on installations by taking advantage of current incentives and available technologies. Increased deployment of energy storage, particularly when paired with renewable energy, will also help the City of Boston reach its ambitious carbon reduction goals.
A Better City’s Sustainable Buildings Initiative and the Green Ribbon Commission’s Commercial Real Estate Working Group, managed by A Better City, hosted a panel discussion and building tour exploring the role of net zero energy and net zero emissions buildings in meeting the mayor’s commitment to make Boston carbon neutral by 2050.
Opening and Closing Remarks
A Better City is managing the development of conceptual design proposal for retrofitting Phillips Square (Chinatown). For these efforts, we partnered with the Boston Transportation Department and Boston Planning and Design Agency, and hired Stantec to provide design consulting services. In March and May, the project team convened two design charrettes with the local community, including members of the project’s advisory group, made up of leaders from Chinatown-based community organizations. The City of Boston plans to implement a semi-permanent version of the finalized conceptual design proposal in summer of 2017. This pilot will help us test the conceptual urban design this summer and evaluate its success before committing to a permanent transformation of the site. The next design charrette will take place the second week of June 2017.
Massachusetts has a wealth of knowledge in the placemaking work, but it is often undermined by the lack of communication and collaboration among those regulating, financing, and implementing placemaking projects. The Routes to Placemaking Workshop aimed to bridge these gaps by convening experts and providing a temporary platform for peer-to-peer learning. Consisting of a networking session, short presentations, and breakout discussions, the Routes to Placemaking Workshop focused on unpacking a selection of placemaking strategies typically employed to improve community spaces.
This event reviewed the A Better City-facilitated Joint Solar Power Purchase Agreement--the largest renewable-energy project ever to be constructed in the U.S. through an alliance of diverse buyers
Placemaking is a people-centered approach to the planning and design of public space. During this discussion the inner mechanics of placemaking and ways to position Boston as a national leader in this field of work were explored.
A Better City and the Green Ribbon Commission hosted a solutions-oriented Symposium and Expo on climate preparedness. The Symposium marked a shift from planning to action in the citywide Climate Ready Boston initiative and focused on technologies, policies and actions to prepare the City’s buildings, businesses and districts for the future.
Over 250 policymakers, experts and other stakeholders gathered at the State of the Built Environment conference on June 7th to debate these issues and many others facing the Greater Boston region. The sessions were anchored by A Better City's key focus areas and the first State of the Built Environment report was released at the event.
Conference speakers included city and state agency leaders who are responsible for the management and development of our region's infrastructure, and the keynote address was given by Senate President Stan Rosenberg.
Severe weather events, a changing climate, and rising sea levels present a direct threat to our region's infrastructure and economic prosperity. We heard from experts who have begun the important task of identifying these risks and developing strategies for investment in resilient infrastructure.
Thursday, June 18, 2015
Hosted by WilmerHale, 60 State Street, Boston MA 02109
In June 2015, A Better City held a panel event that shared perspectives from economists, business leaders and legislators on the importance of public transportation in relation to the region's economy. The event was kicked off by ABC Chairman Mike Cantalupa of Boston Properties and the discussion was facilitated by Doug McGarrah of Foley Hoag.
A Better City, along with the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership and Commonwealth Magazine, hosted the 2014 Democratic and the Republican candidates for Governor in a two part series “Blueprint for the Bay State.”
The moderator for these events was R.D. Sahl, Senior Advisor at Denterlein, and questions were posed by Rick Dimino, President & CEO, A Better City, Daniel O'Connell, President & CEO, Massachusetts Competitive Partnership and Bruce Mohl, Editor, CommonWealth Magazine.
Democratic Gubernatorial Candidates Forum
Tuesday May 20, 2014
District Hall 75 Northern Ave, Boston, MA 02210
The Democratic forum featured candidates Joe Avellone, Don Berwick, Steve Grossman and Juliette Kayyem.
Republican Gubernatorial Candidates Forum
Monday June 2, 2014
District Hall 75 Northern Ave, Boston, MA 02210
The Republican forum featured candidates Charlie Baker and Mark Fisher.
Camron Gorguinpour, PhD., Senior Global Manager, Electric Vehicles,
World Resources Institute, Washington, D.C.