On November 12th, Boston released its draft 2014 Climate Action Plan Update for public comment. The plan outlines goals, targets, strategies and actions for reaching its carbon reduction and climate preparedness goals. In this blog series, we’ll be walking you through various aspects of the plan–starting with the goals and targets, then diving into the chapters on Neighborhoods, Large Buildings and Institutions, Transportation, Climate Preparedness, and 80 x 2050–and demonstrate how we can collectively achieve Boston’s climate goals.

The Large Buildings and Institutions chapter addresses how to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions and increase the sustainability of Boston’s commercial, university, hospital, cultural, civic and industrial institutions. It’s not an easy task–these buildings make up about half of the city’s total greenhouse gas emissions. The goal is to reduce the carbon footprint of this sector by 13 percent by 2020 (approximately 2.79 million metric tons), derive 10 percent of its energy use from co-generation, and install 10 MW of new solar

So how do we reach these  goals? The draft Climate Action Plan has 11 strategies and 45 actions to get us there. Key to meeting this goal is expanding engagement, financing, and assistance in implementing energy efficiency upgrades and renewable energy installation. Many institutions are leading the way by participating in the Mayor’s Carbon Cup. In May, four institutions–universities and hospitals within Boston–committed 15 million square feet of building space to a 35 percent  energy reduction by 2020.

Boston must raise the bar for both new and existing buildings in order to attain its 2020 climate goal. New construction can be held to higher green building standards and the city will continue to pilot energy and green building innovation such as net zero buildings (those that generate at least as much energy as they use). New energy efficiency and fuel-switching incentives and outreach will be critical for existing buildings.

The LBI chapter also addresses waste reduction goals and targets. The state’s Commercial Food Waste Ban, which went into effect October 1, 2014, bans food waste from  any entity that generates one ton or more each week from going to the trash. The Climate Action Plan calls out organic diversion programs, expanded recycling, and municipal composting and green purchasing as top strategies for the LBI sector.

Many of these strategies and action are already underway. BERDO- the Building Energy Reporting and Disclosure Ordinance-that aims to reduce carbon emissions by increasing transparency around building energy and water performance. Property owners and managers can join A Better City’s Challenge for Sustainability, a free program that helps with benchmarking, reducing energy emissions, and sharing best practices. Portfolios of over one million square feet should also consider joining the Mayor’s Carbon Cup.

The draft plan will be open to public comments until December 3, and after reviewing and incorporating public comments and finalizing graphics, the final plan will be released in early January. You can download the draft here and can submit feedback via email at CAP2014@cityofboston.gov, online at Engage.GreenovateBoston.org, or letters sent to:

Environment Department, Suite 709
1 City Hall Plaza
Boston, Ma

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