In January 2015, Mayor Martin J. Walsh updated the Greenovate Boston Climate Action Plan, reaffirming long-standing goals to reduce community greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050 and establishing new goals to ensure that Boston is prepared for the effects of climate change, including rising sea levels and more frequent temperature extremes and precipitation events.
Boston Zoning Code Article 37, Green Buildings (Article 37) and the Boston Climate Change Preparedness and Resiliency Policy (Resiliency Policy) and Checklist (Resiliency Checklist) ensure that major building projects are planned, designed, constructed, and managed to minimize adverse environmental impacts; conserve natural resources; prepare for climate change; promote a more sustainable city; and enhance the quality of life in Boston. All proposed projects subject to or electing to comply with Zoning Article 80B, Large Project Review are subject to Article 37.
Inserted into the Zoning Code in 2007, Article 37 requires that all projects achieve at least the ‘certifiable’ level utilizing the most appropriate United States Green Building Council Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design (LEED) Rating System(s).
To successfully create a high-performance and sustainable building, it is essential that project teams implement an integrated project delivery approach from the initial phases of the project. Research and practice demonstrate that integrated project teams are able to attain higher LEED/green building and resilient outcomes and do so within their project budgets. The City expects project proponents to start with a goal of earning all possible LEED points and to construct the highest performing and most resilient building feasible. Project proponents are also expected to fully leverage market forces and utilize all available utility, state, and federal energy efficiency, green building, and resilience funding and technical assistance.
The Resiliency Policy, enacted in 2013, requires that all projects consider present and future climate conditions in assessing project environmental impacts, including building long-term integrity, passive survivability, and the safety of inhabitants and for describing actions to mitigate adverse impacts. In particular, given Boston’s vulnerability to sea-level rise and other effects of climate change, projects built today must be ready for and adaptable to reasonably foreseeable changes in environmental conditions. The Resiliency Checklist provides a framework for assessing project impacts and must be completed by all projects.
Interagency Green Building Committee
Article 37 establishes the Interagency Green Building Committee (IGBC) to advise the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) and the Inspectional Services Department (ISD) on project compliance with the City's green building and climate-change policies and requirements. IGBC project review encompasses the City of Boston’s broad policies on climate, sustainability, and resiliency. Reviews for compliance occur at three phases: Initial Filing, Design/Building Permit Filing, and Construction/Certificate of Occupancy Filing (see Boston Green Building & Boston Climate Preparedness and Resiliency Review Procedures and Submittal Requirements). The BRA and ISD rely on the IGBC’s advice for the approval of projects and the issuance of Building Permits and Certificates of Occupancy.
The following documents are provided below to guide and assist project proponents in complying with these regulations and policies: