Boston’s Climate Action Plan Update: The Time Has Come For Buildings!

Last week, Boston released its Climate Action Plan 2019 Update. The Update identifies “priority actions” for the next five years necessary to put Boston on a trajectory towards carbon neutrality by 2050. There’s a lot in the Update, but because it states that 71% of Boston carbon emissions come from buildings and it thus leads with its discussion of buildings, I’m going to focus there.

Here are among the initiatives that Boston wants to get in place in the next five years:

  • Construct new municipal buildings to a zero net carbon standard
  • Adopt a zero net carbon standard for city-funded affordable housing in Boston
  • Strengthen green building zoning requirements to a zero net carbon standard
  • Invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy generation in municipal buildings
  • Develop a carbon emissions performance standard to decarbonize existing large buildings

It’s a fairly ambitious agenda, I say with my usual gift for understatement. And lest you think it’s all pie in the sky, these goals arrive together with some specific detailed steps for attaining them, and a schedule that includes dates for each step.

I don’t think that these dates will be met. I do think that the City is going to give a truly massive shove to the real estate industry in the direction of zero net carbon and it does seem likely that our built environment is going to be very different in 2030 than it is today.