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Building Sustainability Highlight: Boston’s BERDO 2.0

Updated: Dec 10, 2021

Fall is leading to a climate-focused season with international summits, local elections, and city-led decarbonization plans. One city that has been appearing in the sustainability spotlight is Boston. On October 6, Mayor Kim Janey signed a new ordinance, Building Energy Reporting and Disclosure Ordinance (BERDO), requiring large buildings to reach zero emissions by 2050. Similar to New York City’s infamous Local Law 97, large buildings will have to report and comply with decreasing carbon emission standards starting in 2025. The ordinance also includes newly established entities to increase accountability for building emission reductions and supporting environmental justice communities in the transition.

A Step up from BERDO 1.0

Building owners and the City of Boston are familiar with the Building Energy Reporting and Disclosure Ordinance, known as BERDO. It was first introduced in 2013 as a required energy and water performance data collecting and reporting program for specific building portfolios.

Residential and non-residential buildings 35,000 square feet or larger must disclose their annual energy and water usage. This data is publicly disclosed on the City's website to help building owners understand their facilities’ energy performance compared to other Boston buildings. Property owners were also required to conduct energy-saving actions or complete an energy assessment to improve building operations and reduce carbon emissions every five years.

In addition to the reporting standards, the revamped BERDO version is phasing out the Energy Action and Assessment Requirement component to transition to a carbon emission compliance model.

Part of the Bigger Picture

BERDO 2.0 is a crucial component of Boston’s Climate Action Plan and as one of the 25 cities in The Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge to reach GHG reduction goals. A key strategy targets emission reductions from buildings, accounting for about 70% of citywide GHG emissions.

City of Boston's CO2e Emissions by Sector

The ordinance focuses on large buildings, which encompasses 4% of the overall group, but contributes 60% of building emissions. These stringent carbon limits in each compliance period will drive these emissions to zero by 2050. Buildings and communities will benefit from decarbonization and experience improvement of indoor air quality, lower utility bills, and resilient infrastructure.