Boston City Council is considering legislation that would transition the city’s existing energy benchmarking and disclosure law to a carbon emissions cap. If passed, Boston would follow London, New York, Washington D.C., St. Louis and the State of Washington in similar efforts to reduce and eventually eliminate carbon emissions from large commercial and residential buildings. 

In Maryland, the General Assembly and the Hogan Administration have arrived at an informal consensus that the state’s climate law should be changed to adopt an economy-wide goal of net-zero emissions by 2045. Regulators and legislators are currently considering how Maryland’s building stock would achieve that goal. 

The Boston approach establishes maximum carbon emissions limits per square foot based on building use. The standard gradually reduces those caps between 2025 and 2050. Emissions from emergency backup power are not counted. 

Mixed-use property would be assessed based on a blended count of the square footage dedicated to specific uses. Portfolios of buildings could be managed as a group through an institutional master plan if the overall emissions-reduction goals are met. Power purchase agreements, Renewable Energy Credits and alternative compliance payments would be allowed as compliance strategies. However, the proposed legislation sets the initial cost of an alternative compliance payment at $234 per metric ton of carbon dioxide. 

A copy of the Boston Ordinance is available here