The city of Boston and Eversource have launched the Building Retrofit Energy Resource Hub, an information hub for large building owners. The project aims to help those owners reduce their energy usage and contribute to the city’s carbon neutrality goals by 2050.
Building Retrofit Energy Resource Hub
Ben Silverman, climate and buildings program manager for the city of Boston, told Energy News Network the idea of this “one-stop-shopping approach” is to ease the access to clean resources for large building owners.
Eversource provides the hub, and owners of buildings over 35 thousand square feet can participate. The company will provide its analyses regarding buildings’ needs and efficiency options.
Besides, Eversource will offer vendor referrals, information about specialized technologies, and help customers with financial designs for their plans.
In this regard, Boston continues to reinforce its role as a leader in energy efficiency. According to ENN, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy recently ranked the city the second within its top 10 most efficient cities in the U.S., only after New York City.
However, Boston still releases about 6.4 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) annually. More critical, buildings are responsible for more than 70% of these emissions.
In that regard, the resource hub looks to offer free of charge revenues, which will be paid by energy efficiency program funds and Massachusetts’ Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Therefore, customers will pay for implementing solutions, but many funding sources can cut these costs.
Benefits for the city of Boston
Eversource anticipates the hub’s benefits such as increased efficiency, lower costs for low-income families, and improved indoor air quality for households under often poor environmental conditions.
However, the project won’t enhance environmental justice in smaller multifamily buildings since those won’t meet the eligibility requirements or performance standards required by the hub. According to Silverman, Boston authorities and Eversource have identified this issue as one of their biggest priorities.
To complement the hub’s efficiency, the city’s authorities aim to promote the Building Operator Certification for building maintenance and operations. This certification includes personnel training for them to understand efficiency systems and their use.
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Boston is following the example of its neighbor city, Cambridge, which introduced a very similar service last year to assist buildings more significant than 25 thousand square feet. Earlier this fall, Washington D.C. also launches a high-performance building hub.
Although this hub model represents good opportunities for several cities, it won’t be easy to release in all municipalities. Particularly, towns with low concentrations of large buildings will face problems to implement the model.
Eversource is already working with towns in its service area to help them tailor adequate energy efficiency programs. For instance, the utility worked over the summer with Summerville’s city to reach out to senior citizens and help them better manage their energy use.