The Burdens of BERDO

By Ellen Shapiro

Remember the worries about January 1, 2000 – or Y2K as it was known? Predictions of doom were rampant – elevators would stop, bank vaults wouldn’t open, computers would crash, and all sorts of conveniences and equipment would stop working. January 1, 2000, arrived and with a few minor, long forgotten exceptions life simply went on.

Well, for Boston residential buildings, a new deadline is on the horizon – not around the corner but nevertheless coming. The clock started ticking in May 2013 when the Boston City Council passed the Building Energy Reporting and Disclosure Ordinance (BERDO) proposed by the late Mayor Tom Menino. BERDO was designed for a noble purpose “to reduce emissions including greenhouse gases from energy production, encourage efficient use of energy and water and develop investment in a green economy by requiring the reporting and disclosure of annual energy and water use in all large buildings.” (Some weather people are attributing Hurricane Ian’s strength to greenhouse gases’ effect on global warming, so this indeed is a noble purpose.) The initial reporting deadline was September 15, 2014. Thereafter BERDO was amended to set a building emissions performance standard by 2021.

Without getting into the weeds of this ordinance and its regulations, the date to keep in mind is 2050. That is the year residential buildings in Boston are expected to have reduced their emissions to zero. For purposes of BERDO, residential buildings are defined as either “a Building with fifteen (15) or more total individual dwelling units that, together with hallways and other common space serving residents comprise fifty percent (50%) of the gross Building Area, excluding parking; or a parcel with a single Owner and multiple buildings that cumulatively have fifteen (15) or more total individual dwelling units or that cumulatively equal or exceed twenty thousand (20,000) square feet in gross Building Area.” Not surprisingly, Building Owner is defined as “the association or organization of unit Owners responsible for overall management in the case of a condominium;” and for cooperatives, the Board of Directors. Now there are some deductions to energy use for Emergency Backup Generation/Backup Power and Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment, but it is clear what the BERDO goal is – that by 2050 residential building must reduce their emissions by 100%.

In order to monitor compliance, a Table of Emissions Standards by Building use has been established with decreasing emission expected in increments of five years. There are annual reporting requirements for six different categories which must be submitted to the Commission by May 15th with a one-time six-month extension available. In the first reporting year the Owner must provide a third-party verification of their reporting data and thereafter, the third-party verification must be provided for the five years prior (not including the current year being reported.) And, of course, there are penalties for failure to comply.

If you are uncertain as to whether or not your building is required to report, contact our office and we will be glad to help you.

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