By Grey Lee

[UPDATE: 5/15/14 – the BERDO 120-day extension amendment has passed. We received the following note from Chief Swett:

I just wanted to quickly thank you all for your efforts on this.  City Council unanimously approved Mayor Walsh's amendment to BERDO, and we are now back to work on implementation. This unanimous vote would not have been possible without your outreach and support.

 
Thanks,
Brian

…thank you to our volunteers and peer organization partners for supporting building energy reporting.]

Boston City Council held a hearing to continue to tweak the Building Energy Reporting & Disclosure Ordinance today [5/12/14]. You can read a number of pieces regarding the background of the ordinance at our Advocacy Resources page.

On April 30th, the Council voted to delay implementation of the ordinance, which was enacted in May 2013, for one year. A few entities were concerned that the reporting deadline, of 5/15/14, was coming up quickly and their constituents wouldn't be prepared. Greater Boston Real Estate Board suggested the delay and the council felt that it was prudent.

However, doing so would dramatically change the information gathering process for building energy use, and the major utilities had recently come on board with being able to provide building-by-building data for ordinance compliance. With a one-year delay, the City would lose out on information trendlines regarding greenhouse gas emissions that are needed for the triennial Climate Action Plan Update due later this year.

The City's Office of Environment & Energy worked with the Mayor to create a compromise to meet more stakeholders' needs. They introduced a 120-day delay amendment. USGBC MA is proud to support this amendment.
 

Today, the City Council held a hearing for testimony in support of the new amendment. I represented the Chapter along with Board Member David Straus, who was there on behalf of his constituents at A Better City. The Chapter's testimony can be read here. Tedd Saunders of the Saunders Hotel Group also testified very eloquently on the benefits of BERDO.

Councillor-at-Large Michael Flaherty chaired the meeting. Brian Swett and Carl Spector introduced the amendment and described how over 120 buildings have already reported as of this morning. Many are smaller owners and institutions like a catholic high school and a convent that have reported – not the ones you'd expect to have an elaborate energy reporting capacity. Swett described how the amendment includes a provision exempting owners from the original sanctions during their first year of reporting – so if for some reason the reporting is not achievable for a particular building, they will get a pass in the first year on any fines or energy audit requirements.

Chairman Flaherty noted that at the council meeting on 4/30 they were faced with an option of the impending deadline or a 1-year delay. He felt that at the time they had to vote for the delay, but was glad that they now have this 4-month compromise, which will make everyone happy. Councillor Tim McCarthy was also present. Both thanked the supporters of the amendment, the only side to testify, although GBREB was in attendance. I hope that means that their constituents can live with the change. As I testified, BERDO means energy reporting and the EPA has found that will lead to energy savings; who can't be happy with spending less on energy?

The USGBC MA will continue to follow the issue and work, as Darien Crimmin of Winn Development noted, to bring all parties together. Energy efficiency in buildings is good for owners, users, the city at large and of course, the environment. I look forward to working with the owners and operators of buildings in Boston (and beyond!) to create high-performance buildings so Boston can stay #1 in energy efficiency and be a leader on climate response & sustainability.

I will keep you posted!