Driving Carbon Reductions

Cities and businesses can help combat the threat of climate change by taking steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

A Better City is helping Boston’s commercial real estate and business sectors reduce carbon emissions through both demand-side and supply-side innovations. The goals: to reduce Boston’s carbon emissions to 25% below 1990 levels by 2020, and to be carbon neutral by 2050.

Why It’s Important

With approximately 50% of Boston’s GHG emissions coming from large buildings and institutions, including numerous commercial buildings, it is clear that the commercial real estate (CRE) sector must be a driving force in meeting these goals. Because of the scale of the commercial building sector, innovations in the way buildings consume and produce energy have an outsized effect on the region’s carbon emissions.

A Better City’s Role

A Better City is driving action on emissions reduction through two avenues:

1. The Sustainable Buildings Initiative: The Sustainable Buildings Initiative engages a core group of representatives from member companies to drive action on topics related to sustainability and climate resilience in commercial real estate. The group convenes quarterly to hear from experts about innovative developments in energy efficiency, renewable energy, waste, water and mobile source emissions. A Better City also keeps participants up to date on current incentives and programmatic updates from the utilities, State, City and other partners. In addition, the Initiative provides resources like the Emissions Reduction Toolkit to help educate property managers and owners about the tools available to reduce Scope 1 and 2 emissions from their buildings. For more information, see https://sustainablebuildingsinitiative.org.

2. The Green Ribbon Commission’s Commercial Real Este Working Group (CREWG): A Better City facilitates the Boston Green Ribbon Commission’s Commercial Real Estate Working Group to support the City’s climate goals by focusing on high-level policy, advocacy, communication and participation, supported by pertinent research, pilot projects, and demonstration models. Carbon reduction examples include engaging with the Energy Efficiency Advisory Council and program administrators to expand efficiency program savings, and engaging the commercial sector on energy efficiency and renewable energy topics. Specific research in 2017 included: Sustainable Tenant Fit-Out and Improvement Guide; and The Commercial Net Zero Energy Building Market in Boston Two events were co-hosted with the Sustainable Buildings Initiative to launch these publications: a Landlord-Tenant Forum to increase communication between landlords and tenants; and a panel discussion, A Path to Zero? The Role of Net Zero Energy Buildings in Boston focused on achieving net zero energy in Boston's commercial 

Building Climate Resiliency

As the climate changes, our infrastructure must evolve as well. Boston must make its infrastructure resilient to climate change hazards like extreme temperature, extreme precipitation, rising seas and coastal storms.

A Better City is working with multiple stakeholders to monitor climate change projections, educate constituents, and provide adaptation tools and resources for decisions and planning around development.

Climate Ready Boston

Climate Ready Boston is a long-term climate preparedness planning process for the Greater Boston region led by the City of Boston in collaboration with the Green Ribbon Commission.

Why It’s Important

As a coastal city, Boston is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change: sea level rise, more frequent severe weather events, more severe flooding, and increased urban heat. The commercial real estate (CRE) sector must make use of available tools, technologies and strategies to prepare for the effects of climate change that are already ‘locked in,’ in order to ensure the economic security of Boston’s future.

A Better City’s Role

A Better City is driving action on climate resilience through three avenues:

  1. The Sustainable Buildings Initiative: In addition to encouraging action on energy, waste, water, and transportation, the Sustainable Buildings Initiative also encourages participants to implement resilience measures in their buildings. A Better City keeps participants up to date on the City’s resilience plan, Climate Ready Boston, and provides a Climate Resilience Toolkit to educate participants about possible resilience measures that might be used in their buildings. For more information, see https://sustainablebuildingsinitiative.org.
  2. The Green Ribbon Commission’s Commercial Real Este Working Group (CREWG): As part of A Better City’s role in supporting the City’s climate goals, the CREWG also focuses on fostering climate resilience in the commercial real estate sector. Examples include participating in the resilient design strategies for Boston’s vulnerable neighborhoods, reviewing and providing comments on the City’s updated resilience guidelines and checklist, and providing input into the Climate Ready Boston governance and financing project. Specific research in 2017 included: Voluntary Resilience Standards, and preliminary research for the City into a resilience audit and retrofit program.

Building Resiliency Toolkit

The Building Resiliency Toolkit provides information on potential structural interventions that can make commercial building more resilient to climate change.

Why It’s Important

Commercial building owners are not always aware of the resources and technologies available to help improve resiliency.

A Better City’s Role

A Better City developed the Toolkit along with the report, Enhancing Resilience in Boston, to provide commercial building owners with information about available technologies and to help perform a preliminary assessment of potential regulatory touch points within the city and state.