NZEB Updates

UPDATE: May 2016

Our Advocacy Committee members will be meeting with the towns of Natick, Somerville and Lexington (and hopefully more in the future!) to discuss the tools they need to develop a Net Zero Energy plan. 

UPDATE: Late April 2016

Our Advocacy Committee is setting up meetings with municipalities around the state to determine what resources and tools are needed for them to move towards Net Zero Energy.

UPDATE: March 2016

Work continues on the "Net Zero Handbook" collaboration with Susanne Rasmussen and our Advocacy Committee. 

UPDATE: February 2016

The stretch code coalition that USGBC MA is a part of is working on a new advocacy letter to pressure legislators to properly update the stretch code. 

Our "Net Zero Handbook" collaboration with Susanne Rasmussen (Director of Transportation and Environmental Planning for the City of Cambridge) is also still in the works, so stay tuned for more news about this!

UPDATE: January 2016

Later this month on Jan. 28th, our Chapter is hosting a Green Breakfast event to discuss the Net-Zero Action Plan set forth by the City of Cambridge. Sign up here to join the crowd for our biggest breakfast event yet.

Our speaker is Susanne Rasmussen, Director of Transportation and Environmental Planning for the City of Cambridge, who will discuss the details of the NZ Action Plan. We will also discuss the potential for creating a "net-zero handbook," to help guide smaller municipalities and towns in Massachusetts to achieve net-zero.








UPDATE: November 2015

On Monday, Nov. 9, our Advocacy Committe Chair Kate Brubiski attended a talk by Edward Mazria, hosted by the Boston Society of Architects. Mazria is the founder of Architecture 2030, an organization which has created a path to reduce carbon emissions--so that our society does not reach the point-of-no-return on climate change. Architecture 2030 promotes solutions to climate change through the design of the built environment.

Mazria shared information, which he had presented earlier in the day to the Green Ribbon Commission, on how Boston could meet its Climate Action Plan and the Compact of Mayors commitment of an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The Achieving 80x50 plan outlined by Mazria includes increased energy codes for new and existing buildings, new financing options and incentives to developers and property owners, as well as utility updates for increased renewable energy.

Many of the keys to this plan align with the advocacy efforts that the USGBC MA Advocacy Committee have been working on. Our advocacy efforts focus on legislation, adoption, education and resources for these focus areas.

Read more about Edward Mazia and Architecture 2030 here.

UPDATE: September 2015

The news here is how NZEB relates to the Stretch Code. It is somewhat of a nuclear option for us. Many stakeholders are engaged in the ongoing improvement of building codes in Massachusetts - from participation in enforcement and education, to active roles in various review committees and commissions on up to the International Green Construction Code. We do see steady progress.

However, the Commonwealth has not been able to create an update to the Stretch Code. The recent draft (from earlier this summer, but only published recently) exhibits major flaws: buildings under 100,000 s.f. would be exempt, and the modeled energy savings are minimal. They will require design for future PV installation potential and EV charging stations - which is great. But fundamentally this suggested new stretch code is not worth the effort and we are going to contest it strongly. The BBRS can and must do better.

The Chapter joins with progressive colleagues and Green Community-designated municipalities to call on the board of standards to review and improve the draft language. If the stretch code isn't going to be a stretch, we will move to push for an aggressive roll-out of net zero energy building legislation and regulations - as that is where the otherwise steady progress of code improvement will take us.

But if the regulators won't meet the market capacity to design and construct seriously efficient buildings through codes, we will work the other end from the fundamental goal of net zero. This is going to be fun!

Read more about the latest here.

UPDATE: August 2015

During the Green Breakfast Forum, hosted by the Advocacy Committee in late July, Kate Bubriski kept the advocacy energies flowing by diving into Net Zero Energy Building codes and how Massachusetts, although maintaining decent progress, still has a long way to go to reach NZEB goals. Bill S.1771 would act as a dragnet for residential and commercial buildings to achieve net zero energy performance by 2020 and 2030 respectively. This bill also designates the Board of Building Regulations and Standards (BBRS) to establish definitions of zero net-energy for residential and commercial buildings. Kate emphasized the interconnectedness of supporting NZEB and the movement of the other Chapter Priorities, such as net metering and PACE. Although there are success stories already in the Commonwealth, such as with the Cambridge Net Zero Task Force, there was discussion about organizations in opposition to NZEB, such as NAIOP. We will continue to look towards NZEB as our priority by collaborating and learning from the steps taken by allied organizations. 

UPDATE: July 2015

Check out our new Bill Tracker located on our Local Advocacy Page for the updates on the pending bills S.1771 and S.1632! After rallying much support for bill S.1771 at the June 30th hearing at the State House in the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy, we are hopeful there will be more successful activity in the near future!

UPDATE: June 2015

On June 30, 2015, USGBC MA voiced our support during the Energy Efficiency Hearing (Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy) at the State House for Bill S.1771, along with other green bills. When passed, S.1771 will advance building codes to reduce energy consumption from residential by 2020 and commercial buildings by 2030. Craig Foley, the Advocacy Coordinator for USGBC MA's Residential Green Building Committee, and our warrior on the battlefield, brought to light USGBC MA's efforts to educate coalitions and property owners on how to execute planning toward the NZEB codes we are striving to pass. With Massachusetts as the leading state for energy efficiency for the fourth year in a row (according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy), NZEB codes are key to maintain the state's leadership in high energy efficiency for other states to follow. It was also nice to see our allied organizations, such as NEEP present supporting the same efforts. NEEP also raised some concerns about S.1771's language needing to be more specific with regards to defining "stringent energy efficiency provisions." We will continue to push this bill in preparation for the next five years to our first target of 2020! See Story

On June 23, 2015, USGBC MA presented the Chapter's Priorities, which included the hot topic of Net Zero Energy Buildings. Through a very informative presentation by our Advocacy Committee Chair and NZEB Issue Captain, Kate Bubriski, we were able to educate the 40+ attendees and advocate for support of green building codes. See Story

UPDATE: May 2015

On May 11th, the Chapter scheduled a working session on the Net Zero Energy Building Standard. Chapter efforts include collaborating with organizations and companies who also support Net Zero Building Legislation, providing educational materials to chapter members, legislators and the public, and also preparing to testify, or organize testimony at legislative hearings.

UPDATE: February 2015

The current version of the Act promoting zero net-energy buildings in the Commonwealth by Senator Eldridge is gaining more co-sponsors, and is targeting a more stringent path to Net Zero Building Codes. The advocacy team is continuing to expand our network of support around this issue, and as one of our key advocacy issues for 2015 we will be focusing on Net Zero Code at our next Green Breakfast Series which is currently scheduled for the 3rd week in March.

UPDATE: January 2015

Appeal to co-sponsor: USGBC MA seeks legislators to co-sponsor the following bill. Constituents are encouraged to urge their legislator to co-sponsor. You can use this letter as a template and send to your legislator.

Refiled 1771 (S1587): An Act Promoting Zero Net Energy Buildings in the Commonwealth

Lead Sponsor: Senator Jamie Eldridge

Summary: Buildings consume more energy than any other sector and are the largest contributor to climate change in the United States. In Massachusetts, our buildings use 54% of the energy we consume. This bill would improve building codes in Massachusetts to reduce energy consumption from residential and commercial buildings. This bill amends section 94 of chapter 143 of the Massachusetts General Laws which establishes the authority of the Board of Building Regulations and Standards (BBRS).  This bill designates the BBRS to establish definitions of residential zero net-energy buildings and commercial zero net-energy buildings.  The changes would also direct the BBRS, in consultation with the Department of Energy Resources, to promulgate regulations establishing a residential zero net-energy building requirement to take effect January 1, 2020 and a commercial zero net-energy building requirement to take effect January 1, 2030.

Why This Matters: The energy our buildings consume still comes predominantly (over 90%) from dirty and dangerous sources. Current codes are regulations on energy and energy efficiency essentially are subsidizing the inefficient design & construction and dirty energy.To clean up our air, mitigate climate change, lower costs for consumers, and reduce our dependence on foreign oil, we need to make our homes and businesses far more energy-efficient. With a generally healthy economy and a booming energy efficiency market, Massachusetts is uniquely positioned to lead the country by committing the Commonwealth to meeting the building industry’s 2030 Challenge of carbon neutrality in the building sector within the next 15 years. 

Zero net energy buildings have been proven to be feasible to design and construct in Massachusetts, particularly in the residential sector. In addition to saving energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, zero net energy buildings can provide significant cost savings for residents and businesses, and stimulate clean energy technology development and job growth in the Commonwealth. 

Creating more zero net energy buildings will require the state to find new ways to create clean and local energy, reduce our energy consumption, and remake our society to support a low carbon infrastructure.  Zero net energy building will make energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies central to the way we design and build.

This bill was based on the recommendations of Governor Patrick’s Zero Net Energy Buildings Task Force, as the report states: “Although the current economic and climate challenges before us are great, the opportunities presented by these challenges for technology innovation, job growth, energy savings, and clean energy in the building sector require Massachusetts to act boldly—the time is now to move toward zero net energy buildings in the Commonwealth.”

View the full text of the bill and track its history here.