On May 8, the Boston City Council approved an ordinance requiring building owners to report annual energy and water use. The final ordinance is slightly different from the one about which we posted in February. Highlights include the following:
- Building owners subject to the ordinance will have to report on May 15 of each year:
The previous calendar year’s energy and water use of each building and other building characteristics necessary to evaluate absolute and relative energy use intensity.
- Non-residential buildings of at least 50,000 square feet would be required to report beginning in 2014. Non-residential buildings of at least 35,000 square feet would be required to report beginning in 2016. (The threshold was increased from 25,000 square feet in the draft.)
- Residential buildings of at least 50 units or 50,000 square feet would be required to report beginning in 2015. Residential buildings of at least 35 units or 35,000 square feet would be required to report beginning in 2017. (The threshold was increased from 25 units or 25,000 square feet in the draft.)
- Subject to exemptions which largely reflect whether a building is already high-performing, building owners subject to the ordinance will have to perform energy audits, beginning five years after the first applicable reporting deadline.
- Residential tenants have no obligation to report data to owners; owners will be given default assumptions to use regarding residential tenant energy and water use. Non-residential tenants are subject to the ordinance.
- Energy and water use will be made publicly available by no later than October 1 of each year. Owners will have an opportunity to review the accuracy of the information to be reported.
- Enforcement provisions, including relatively modest fines, are included, though fines can only be imposed if an owner does not comply with the terms of a Notice of Violation.
As we noted in February, this type of ordinance is likely coming to a city near you in the relatively near future. Building owners may be able to shape the ordinance, but, at least in many cities, they will not be able to prevent it from being enacted. Proactive engagement rather than fierce opposition seems to be the appropriate course here.