Boston Proposes Building Labeling

November 2012Advisories

Boston’s Office of Environmental and Energy Services is crafting a proposed ordinance that uses transparency requirements to reduce energy and water use and greenhouse gas emissions from buildings. Though the draft ordinance is not yet available for public comment, Environmental and Energy Services has summarized its key components, which include the following:

  • All large and medium buildings or groups of buildings would be required to report annual energy use, water use, and greenhouse gas emissions through Energy Star Portfolio Manager or an equivalent mechanism. The requirement would initially apply to nonresidential buildings over 50,000 gross square feet, extending to residential buildings with more than 50 units in 2015.
  • Tenants would be required to provide energy and water use data to building owners.
  • Reported information, along with Energy Star ratings and other contextual information for individual buildings, would be made available on the Internet.
  • Buildings with Energy Star ratings below the 75th percentile in their group would generally be required to conduct energy audits every 5 years to identify opportunities for investments in energy efficiency. The City would develop exemption criteria for buildings that do not qualify for any Energy Star rating and for buildings and groups of buildings that show continuous improvement.
  • Failure to comply with reporting requirements could lead to fines.

Boston follows several other large U.S. cities, such as New York, Philadelphia, Seattle and San Francisco, that have opted for mandatory reporting of environmental performance over heavy-handed requirements for system upgrades or operations improvements. While disclosure could give high-performing buildings bragging rights, the implementation and enforcement of the ordinance could create concerns for owners and managers of other buildings.

Goulston & Storrs is following developments in the draft ordinance. For questions about the information contained in this advisory, please contact your usual Goulston & Storrs attorney or the attorneys listed below.

Matt Kiefer
(617) 574-6597
[email protected]

Adam Hundley
(617) 574-3540
[email protected]

This advisory should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances. The contents are intended for general informational purposes only, and you are urged to consult your own lawyer concerning your situation and any specific legal questions you may have.

Pursuant to IRS Circular 230, please be advised that, this communication is not intended to be, was not written to be and cannot be used by any taxpayer for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under U.S. federal tax law or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another taxpayer any transaction or matter addressed herein.

© 2013 Goulston & Storrs – A Professional Corporation All Rights Reserved