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Building Emissions Reduction and Disclosure

Boston’s Building Emissions Reduction and Disclosure Ordinance (BERDO) sets requirements for large existing buildings to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions over time. 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

The 2024 BERDO Reporting Form is not live yet. Building owners may begin entering energy and water data into Energy Star Portfolio Manager as soon as complete 2023 data is available.

Apply to receive free assistance for BERDO reporting and third-party verification
  • We are offering data reporting and verification services to building owners who need extra assistance. Funding is limited and will only be provided to building owners who are self-managed residential buildings, small non-profit owners, or commercial buildings with small business tenants. If you believe you qualify and are interested in receiving this assistance, please apply here
  • Second round applications are due by March 15, 2024.
Attend weekly office hours or schedule a one-on-one building emissions consultation
  • The BERDO team is offering weekly office hours to answer questions about BERDO emissions estimates and potential compliance strategies. Office hours are held weekly on Fridays at 10:00 am on Zoom. Please register for a session here.
  • If you have completed reporting in previous years, you can schedule an individual building emissions consultation. A member of the BERDO team will help you understand your current emissions and compliance options. Please schedule a time-slot here.
Attend upcoming webinars on flexibility measures and emissions compliance
  • The BERDO team is hosting a series of online webinars to provide information on BERDO flexibility measures and emissions compliance. All webinars will be held on Zoom and registration is required. You can find upcoming webinars here. Slides and recordings of past webinars can be found here.

WHAT IS BERDO?

Adopted in 2021, BERDO is an Ordinance that aims to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions generated by large buildings in Boston. BERDO gives the City of Boston authority to set emissions standards for large existing buildings, including residential buildings with 15 or more units and non-residential buildings that are 20,000 square feet or larger.

The emissions standards set by BERDO decrease over time, with all buildings expected to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. BERDO encourages retrofits, energy efficiency improvements, fuel switching, and renewable energy generation in local buildings. These improvements can increase thermal comfort and indoor air quality for building occupants, reduce outdoor air pollution, promote the hiring and development of green jobs, and direct further investments into building a low-carbon and equitable Boston. 

To learn more about BERDO, read the full text of the Ordinance and the adopted regulations, policies, and procedures:
 
 
 

Who is covered?

BERDO applies to the following buildings:

  • Residential buildings that have 15 or more units.
  • Non-residential buildings that are 20,000 square feet or larger.
  • Any tax parcel with multiple buildings that sum to at least 20,000 square feet or 15 units.

Please note that a mixed-use building is considered residential if 50% or more of its Gross Floor Area, excluding parking, has a residential use.

OBLIGATIONS UNDER BERDO

OBLIGATIONS
REPORTING

Every year by May 15, building owners need to report the total energy and water use of their buildings from the previous calendar year.

Learn how to report to BERDO

THIRD-PARTY VERIFICATION

Building owners must third-party verify their reported data on their first year of reporting and every "Verification Year" thereafter.

Learn how to complete third-party verification

EMISSIONS REDUCTIONS

Building owners must reduce emissions from their buildings below an emissions standard. All buildings are expected to reach net-zero by 2050. Buildings must begin complying with these emissions limits in 2025 or 2030, depending on their size.

Learn how to comply with emissions standards

HOW TO REPORT TO BERDO

There are three main parts to reporting:

  1. Energy Star Portfolio Manager: Energy Star Portfolio Manager is used for reporting key building characteristics and energy and water usage. 
  2. BERDO Reporting Form: This form captures data required for BERDO 2.0 that isn’t included in Energy Star Portfolio Manager. 
  3. Third-Party Data Verification

Before you begin reporting to BERDO, please first review our detailed How to Report Guide and the following instructive videos:

HOW TO COMPLETE THIRD-PARTY VERIFICATION

Third-party verification of reported data is required for the first year of reporting under BERDO 2.0, and every "Verification Year" thereafter. Verification Years include:

  • 2022
  • 2026
  • 2031
  • 2036
  • 2041
  • 2046
  • 2051

HOW TO COMPLY WITH EMISSIONS STANDARDS

Emissions standards set annual emissions limits based on different types of building uses. All emissions standards are measured in kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent per square foot per year.

To comply with emissions standards, building owners must decrease or mitigate the total annual emissions produced by consuming electricity and fossil fuels in their buildings. These annual emissions must stay below the emissions limit for the respective building type. For example, a multi-family apartment building must comply with the emissions standards for "Multifamily Housing" and work towards achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

Compliance Mechanisms

BERDO provides building owners with multiple compliance mechanisms, i.e., options to achieve compliance with emissions standards. These include direct emissions reductions in buildings, local renewable energy generation, renewable energy purchases, and Alternative Compliance Payments. 

Flexibility Measures 

BERDO also offers building owners the opportunity to apply for different flexibility measures, including Building Portfolios, Individual Compliance Schedules, and Hardship Compliance Plans. All flexibility measures must be approved by the BERDO Review Board.

RESOURCES

The Retrofit Resource Hub provides information to make healthy, climate resilient, and low-carbon building improvements. We have information to help building owners, tenants, and contractors.

RETROFIT RESOURCE HUB                             

EMISSIONS COMPLIANCE QUICK GUIDE     

compliance mechanisms faqS                

FLEXIBILITY MEASURES quick GUIDe        

flexibility measures applications     

BERDO EMISSIONS CALCULATOR                  

BERDO EMISSIONS CALCULATOR Guide    

WHEN DO I NEED TO START COMPLYING WITH EMISSIONS STANDARDS?

Buildings must begin complying with emissions standards in 2025 or 2030, depending on their size:

2025
  • Residential buildings with 35 units or more
  • Non-residential buildings that are 35,000 square feet or larger
  • Any tax parcel with 35 units or more or 35,000 square feet or larger
2030
  • Residential buildings with 15 - 34 units
  • Non-residential buildings that are 20,000 - 34,999 square feet
  • Any tax parcel with 15 - 34 units or 20,000 - 34,999 square feet

WHAT IS MY EMISSIONS STANDARD?

  • Use the table below to identify the emissions standards that apply to your building's primary use.
  • Please note that mixed-use buildings may adopt a blended emissions standard based on the square footage of each of the building's primary uses.

BERDOTable1

COMPLIANCE MECHANISMS AND FLEXIBILITY MEASURES

Direct emissions reductions in buildings Local renewable generation and renewable energy purchases Alternative Compliance Payments Flexibility measures

Building owners can reduce their overall energy and emissions through direct building retrofits or improvements.

Examples of building retrofits include:

  • Upgrading to high efficiency electric appliances and lighting
  • Upgrading systems for heating and cooling
  • Upgrading systems for water heating
  • Upgrading systems for cooking
  • Improving  insulation
  • Tightening window seals

Buildings owners can reduce or mitigate emissions from electricity use through local renewable energy generation and/or the purchase of eligible renewable energy in the market:

  • Local renewable generation (rooftop solar, community solar, etc.)
  • Boston Community Choice Electricity
  • Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs)
  • Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs)

Building Owners can comply with emissions standards and mitigate emissions from

electricity and fossil fuel use by making Alternative Compliance Payments (ACPs).

ACPs are $234 for every metric ton of carbon dioxide equivalent a building is above its emissions limit.

ACPs are

collected into the new Equitable Emissions Investment Fund to support building

decarbonization projects that prioritize benefits to Environmental Justice communities in Boston.

Building owners may be eligible for one or more of the following flexibility measures to adjust their emissions limits and pathway

to net-zero:

  • Blended emissions standards
  • Building Portfolios
  • Individual Compliance Schedules
  • Hardship Compliance Plans

Data Disclosure

The City of Boston is required to annually disclose BERDO reported data from the previous year. 

Future data disclosures will report on metrics related to environmental justice and the equitable implementation of BERDO. Staff, in collaboration with community members, are identifying appropriate metrics to track and report on over time. Initial research has been conducted to evaluate options for the development of environmental justice metrics for BERDO and has been summarized in a memo.

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