Mass. cities, cities tired of waiting for a new green building code
The Department of Public Utilities was tasked with creating a special zoning code for review last fall, but it stalled, reportedly due to pressure from the building and development community. They apparently speak with a louder voice and more influence than state law or the physics of climate change. Governor Baker reports that “people who are in the building and home construction business, who have said some elements of this bill. . . can literally stop any housing development in the Commonwealth in its tracks.
Such comments are defeatist and irresponsible, and they ignore the need for society to recognize and address rational, long-term issues such as climate change while meeting current needs. We can do both and we have done so many times in the past.
We welcome new developments in our city, but these new projects must meet both the present good and sustainability. This dual path will be more difficult, but the people of Massachusetts recognize the need to address both our common present and future. This was shown at town meetings all over the state. We call on our developer friends to join this common cause.
Writers are part of the leaders of their city’s climate action team.
Net zero buildings good for our health, our planet and our wallet
Thank you for covering up the Baker administration’s shameful drag on creating a critically important net zero building stretch code. The argument that it costs too much to build better buildings is a scaremongering tactic used by entrenched interests.
In 2019, the Massachusetts Chapter of the United States Green Building Council (now Built Environment Plus) released a report that found that new zero-energy buildings were being built for little or no additional upfront cost. The multiple benefits of today’s state-of-the-art energy-efficient buildings include significant savings in operating costs, better indoor air quality, and significantly less external pollution. They are good for the wallet, good for human health and good for the planet.
On this issue, I am grateful to our Legislative Assembly for remaining vigilant in implementing a new building code.
James O. Michel
Boston Clean Energy Coalition
Cities frustrated by lack of state guidance
I live in a small town facing two large housing estates. City officials appear to have little to do to change building codes to meet the requirements of the state’s next-generation roadmap and clean energy and climate plan. In fact, city officials received little to no guidance on how to proceed. The big picture is well described in Sabrina Shankman’s article on why cities and towns that want to go fossil fuel-free can’t.
Meanwhile, Beacon Hill appears to be moving forward on legislation supporting offshore wind. That’s good, but offshore wind does little to implement the requirements of our new climate law. Are our legislators committed to advancing the necessary legislation before them to implement the climate action required by the Next Generation Bill?
One wonders if it’s like the magician’s trick to get us to focus on what’s happening on stage when the real change has to happen elsewhere. We need real climate legislation now to meet the demands of the new law.
The author is a member of Elders Climate Action.
Cambridge leaders are putting their ideas into action now
Thank you for bringing attention to the fact that cities and towns across Massachusetts are eager to help our residents and businesses make a just transition to clean energy and net zero buildings. I really appreciate that the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy convened its recent hearing, and I was happy to testify in favor of allowing municipalities like Cambridge to require newly built buildings constructed avoid the burning of fossil fuels.
Cambridge is currently prevented by the state from implementing our Net Zero Action Plan, adopted by City Council in 2015, and as a result we are missing critical deadlines to reduce building emissions, which represent over 80% of our global emissions. Luckily, our municipal government didn’t wait, and all new municipal construction is now fully electric and net zero in Cambridge, including two schools and a third under construction. Affordable housing developers are building passive, all-electric homes and net-zero buildings, and even commercial developers like Alexandria and BioMed Realty are building energy-efficient, all-electric buildings using geothermal energy and steam from the CHP plant. Cambridge.
We can do this, but we need the Legislative Assembly to act and give Cambridge and other municipalities the ability to require all new developments to be fossil fuel free and net zero so we can meet our climate goals. .