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The results of climate change, including hurricanes, heatwaves and wildfires, are becoming more frequent, severe and costly. As a result, institutional and commercial facilities are taking a closer look at the impact of greenhouse gas emissions from new or newly renovated buildings. One U.S. city has taken a step to ease that impact.
Boston Mayor Michelle Wu recently signed an executive order eliminating fossil fuel use in new building constructions and renovations across the city. The order bans new municipal buildings from using energy sources like natural gas and heating oil, prohibits fossil fuel use in major renovations of existing city-owned buildings and requires projects that replace a building’s HVAC system to use renewable energy.
Boston owns more than 16 million square feet of property. Wu said the move will accelerate Boston’s goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, with buildings accounting for more than 70 percent of the city’s total carbon emissions, and municipal emissions constituting 2.3 percent of all those emissions. As part of its existing capital plan, the city has already allocated more than $130 million to advance decarbonized buildings and revitalize older structures.
The order could significantly boost demand across various trades and professions within the green building network. The executive order aims to pave the way for employment prospects in building construction, design and maintenance, and it is expected to enhance local workforce development initiatives, apprenticeships and other training pathways.
In addition to new construction and renovations, the order prohibits fossil fuel use in major renovations of existing city-owned buildings, impacting alterations where structural work is planned in more than 75 percent of the building’s square footage. It also requires projects that involve replacing a building’s HVAC applications, hot water or cooking equipment to choose a system that does not draw on fossil fuel combustion.
In aid of the rollout, the city will initiate a facilities condition assessment to pinpoint decarbonization initiatives.
Dan Hounsell is senior editor for the facilities market. He has more than 30 years of experience writing about facilities maintenance, engineering and management.
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