Sen. Rebecca “Becca” Rausch, D-Needham (Photo:
Sen. Rebecca “Becca” Rausch, D-Needham (Photo:

A recent bill introduced by Massachusetts state freshman senators would require the owners of buildings 15,000 square feet or more to meet new energy standards and reporting requirements.

Bill S. 2011 put forth by Sen. Rebecca “Becca” Rausch (D-Needham) and Sen. Maria Robinson (D-Framingham) follows a growing nationwide trend of municipalities requiring property owners to adhere to standards designed to combat climate change.

The bill is fueled by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Special Report: Global Warming OF 1.5 ºC that states the world has less than 12 years to reduce carbon emissions in a meaningful way in order to avoid an irreversible increase in global temperatures.

The bill, as it is written, aims to introduce energy efficiency standards determined by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DER) and to promote reporting transparency through annual filing of energy reports associated with buildings that meet the size requirements. When Massachusetts updated its building codes to include energy efficiency guidelines, only buildings constructed after 2008 were required to meet the new energy standards.

Currently, reports show that Massachusetts consumes more than half of its energy from electricity, heating and cooling for commercial and residential buildings. Energy efficiency standards, however, do exist for new construction, but the state has no requirements for buildings constructed prior to the updated codes.

The state’s Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy issued a favorable report on the bill. While Massachusetts would be the first state to adopt standards for building energy performance, a number of cities across the country are getting on board, with Boston, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. adopting similar standards..

Should S. 2011 become law, the DER would develop energy performance standards by 2021, with a required annual energy reporting date of June 15. In addition, the DER will likely offer incentives and financial assistance programs for building owners who qualify.

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