The following post was provided by Bala Consulting Engineers.

BERDO 2.0 is a landmark ordinance set to drive decarbonization in Boston’s building sector by establishing mandatory carbon emission standards and requiring yearly energy and emissions data reports. The design community and building owners need to prepare for the reporting requirements starting this year and consider strategies to meet upcoming emissions limits.

BERDO 2.0 sets upcoming carbon emissions limits and requires annual reporting for the following buildings:

  • Non-Residential greater than 20,000 SF
  • Residential greater than 20,000 SF or 15+ units

According to the city of Boston, 3,975 buildings in the city are subject to BERDO reporting starting in 2022. June 15th, 2022 was the initial deadline for all buildings over 20,000 SF to report their energy and water usage. However, December 15, 2022, is the extension deadline for reporting and verification, with over half of all buildings taking advantage of this extension.

Driving Decarbonization through Building Emission Limits

The most groundbreaking aspect of BERDO 2.0 is the upcoming building emissions standards. Beginning in 2025, buildings over 35,000 SF are required to include carbon emissions within their annual reports. Emissions will be calculated on a per-square-foot basis and measured against the city’s Emissions Standards (units are kg CO2e/SF/year) showcased in the table below. Emissions Standards vary by building use and become increasingly more stringent every 5-years until reaching carbon neutrality – zero carbon emissions – in 2050.

Buildings 20,000-35,000 SF will not need to comply with emissions standards until 2030, reporting emissions for the first time in 2031.  “Qualified Energy Professionals” must provide a Third-Party Data Verification for the first year of reporting and every 5 years after that. To avoid costly fines, building owners need to report accurately and on time, and if needed, implement building emissions reduction strategies to comply with the upcoming emissions standards.

The Path Forward for Existing Buildings

Since 2022 is the first year the reporting and compliance requirements of BERDO 2.0 are in effect, it can be difficult for building owners to know where their existing buildings stand and what the best course of action may be. As a result, Bala Consulting Engineers’ sustainability team developed a decision tree for building owners, laying out the path forward:

If a building is projected to exceed 2025 emissions standards, direct action to reduce energy consumption of the building is needed, such as conducting retro-commissioning or capital improvement projects. If a building is projected to fall under 2025 emissions standards, Bala recommends conducting a Building Carbon Compliance Planning Study to forecast building emissions limits over time and identify if and when to take specific actions. Having a proactive plan for BERDO 2.0 will lead to optimal end savings and avoidance of penalties for building owners.

As for reporting requirements, “Qualified Energy Professionals”, like Bala’s team, are equipped to help building owners navigate the data acquisition for emissions, energy, and water usage reports, as well as perform official Third-Party Verifications.

The Path Forward for New Buildings

Consideration of BERDO 2.0 and its emissions standards is also critically important for new building projects moving forward. Bala has already integrated preliminary analyses on projects in design, considering current energy codes and 2025, 2030, and 2035 emissions standards. While every building is different, a combination of reducing building energy loads, utilizing all-electric systems, and integrating renewable energy, are essential strategies we are implementing in our projects. To effectively reach building emission targets, engineering solutions should be explored and vetted through exhaustive modeling, calculations, and research, alongside iterative conversations with system manufacturers, the building owner, and the whole design team.

BERDO 2.0 is certainly presenting new challenges for building owners, managers, developers, and design teams. However, by prioritizing decarbonization into short- and long-term capital plans, the legislation is set to positively reshape the role of buildings in our environment and is an important tool for helping Boston meet its climate goals.

For more information on BERDO 2.0 visit the City of Boston’s Resource Page –
https://www.boston.gov/departments/environment/building-emissions-reduction-and-disclosure

Built Environment Plus

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