BLDUP Update 06/06/22

berdo Boston

It’s been clear since the Boston City Council passed BERDO 2.0 in September 2021 that this ordinance would have a significant impact on building owners. Adopted to further push owners on a path toward greater energy efficiency, the law also imposes hefty fines on those that do not comply or fall short of targets. With the first reporting deadline of June 15th fast approaching, owners & property managers need to have their BERDO strategy in place. As BERDO 2.0 has expanded the definition of covered buildings, more than 6,000 properties within the City of Boston must comply with the new guidelines. (check out a full list of properties here). The City now has the authority to set emissions standards for these large existing buildings with all buildings required to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

Properties required to comply include…

  • Non-residential buildings that are 20,000 square feet or larger

  • Residential buildings that have 15 or more units

  • Any parcel with multiple buildings that sum to at least 20,000 square feet or 15 units.

The first steps on the road to compliance include setting up your Energy Star Portfolio Manager & your BERDO Reporting Form. These two items are key in capturing and reporting the energy usage data required. The third, and new requirement, that will take effect on June 15th is Third-Party Data Verification. Not only is working with a certified third party now required but as energy experts, ELM Consulting points out it can also help save you money as incorrect reporting could result in fines of up to $5,000. Charlie Benzyk, Principal Consultant with ELM Consulting tells BLDUP, “While many organizations manage their own data in the Portfolio Manager, having a 3rd party involved to verify compliance and make sure you are set up and tracking info correctly makes good business sense. Third-Party Verification is now mandatory and our services are typically half the cost of the new fines imposed for inaccurate reporting under BERDO 2.0 plus we have found it is very easy for building owners to make what will now be costly mistakes.”

For the June 15th deadline, the registration, reporting,  and third-party verification will be enough to keep property owners in compliance however they will need to begin thinking about their approach to the longer-term requirement of implementing measures to reach net zero by 2050. 

berdo chart

Capital planning for building upgrades will be a crucial step in updating older properties to meet these challenging targets over the coming years. Local General Contractor, Chris Hemenway owner of Hemenway Construction outlined several strategies (listed below) that building owners should begin to consider now to work toward sustainability targets. “With all the legislation and code changes having a well-versed team to help navigate how this affects your property will be a necessity to make the right decisions and ensure the best allocation of funds for capital improvements,” Hemenway tells BLDUP. 

Electrical Service Upgrades - Buildings that are 20 years or older were likely built with electrical services that are inadequate for modern demands. Add on top of that the increased loads to incorporate heat pump equipment and electrical vehicle chargers and this is an area that can provide a wide array of options to an existing building moving into the future. 

Insulated Envelope & Glazing - Buildings that are 20 to 30 years and older are likely seeing original windows start to degrade and need replacing. There are affordable options for passive home-grade glazing systems that can be retrofitted and incorporated into these buildings to drastically increase the insulated R-value of the building envelope.

HVAC Systems - As the city is moving away from and penalizing the use of natural gas, high-efficiency HVAC systems are replacing conventional gas-fired systems. Retrofitting or upgrading the mechanical systems in existing buildings is a long-term incentivized upgrade that can be done but will require careful planning for the specification, purchase and installation of a new system. 


While many of these building upgrades may seem years out there are numerous factors to consider when planning. For example, if you were currently planning to add EV chargers to your property, an updated electrical system will need to be in place and the new switchgear for that system could take up to 8 months to arrive due to supply chain issues. Working with an energy consultant can help ensure your capital plan is in place and achievable for compliance. If you are not planning now for the next year+ your projects will fall behind.

Looking at the BERDO2.0 guidelines even buildings that may be currently considered efficient will be stretched to meet new requirements. Failure to reach these emissions targets will result in gradually increasing compliance costs. Currently, fines are accrued at $1,000 per day for larger covered buildings and $300 per day for smaller covered buildings. As Boston is one of the first cities in the nation to impose emissions performance standards on existing buildings, property owners will have to learn to meet these new standards fairly quickly or pay a high price in fines. Working with energy consultants and or qualified GCs now to plan for updates needed will help ensure compliance when the next set of deadlines arrive. These firms can also predict future utility incentive programs to maximize your capital planning dollars and create forecasts of future energy usage based on measures installed. Partnering with nimble firms like Hemenway or ELM Consulting that can provide bespoke consulting services across many different verticals will help building owners stay on top of this changing landscape.

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