BERDO 2.0: Decarbonizing Boston

As part of its 2019 Climate Action Plan strategy and following suit from Local Law 84 (LL84) in New York City, the City of Boston introduced an ordinance applying energy benchmarking and emissions standards to large buildings. With buildings accounting for nearly 70% of emissions in Boston, this ordinance known as BERDO 2.0 aims to reduce emissions gradually to net-zero by 2050.

What is BERDO 2.0?

BERDO 2.0, otherwise known as Boston’s Building Emissions and Reduction Disclosure Ordinance, is the 2021 amendment to the original 2019 Boston BERDO, moving it on from building energy benchmarking and auditing to creating a building performance standard to adhere to. Across Boston, there are an estimated 3975 buildings affected by BERDO, with the emissions standards set by the City covering:

  • Buildings owned by the City of Boston and Boston Housing Authority
  • Non-residential buildings that are 20,000 square feet or larger
  • Residential buildings with 15 or more units
  • Any parcel of multiple buildings that sum to at least 20,000 square feet or 15 units

BERDO Reporting Requirements

The buildings affected by BERDO must report all their energy and water usage data to the city annually, whilst meeting emissions standards. These emissions standards vary depending on building use but become more stringent every 5 years from 2025, until a zero-emissions standard is implemented in 2050. A qualified third party must verify this data for the first year of reporting, and every 5 years thereafter. 

All reported data is made public by the City, to allow building owners, operators and tenants to view and benchmark a building’s energy performance. Energy Star Portfolio Manager reports energy data and gives the building a performance score from 1 to 100. Across the 5-year emission standard periods, if any building receives an Energy Star Score below 75, it must undergo an energy audit.

Specific BERDO regulations and policies are currently being developed, but currently if emissions standards are not met, fines ranging from $35 to $200 per violation apply. All penalties associated with BERDO go into the Equitable Emissions Investment Fund, to fund projects prioritising the environment for populations disproportionately affected by climate change. 

BERDO Compliance

Now is the time to start assessing whether your portfolio is in line with BERDO’s performance standard targets set for your buildings’ occupancy type. IES are uniquely positioned to help you and your portfolio comply with BERDO 2.0, with our physics-based digital twin building performance analytics software capable of delivering insights and data you can trust to optimise performance and make investment-grade decisions with confidence. 

There are three main ways in which you can bring your building to meet emission standards: retrofitting buildings to make them more energy efficient; eliminate the use of fuels producing greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs); and producing or purchasing clean energy to operate your buildings. 

Retrofitting buildings for energy efficiency

Before upgrading any systems, your building envelope needs to be evaluated. Our expert consultants can use our digital twin software to identify potential retrofit options suitable for your building, such as air sealing or adding new insulation, and de-risk the investment on these by simulating and analysing each option against key performance indicators. These envelope improvements can reduce the heat load by keeping more heat in, increasing occupant comfort and allowing for any future heating system replacements to be smaller (and therefore less expensive). 

Digital twins can also be used to carry out performance benchmarking across your portfolio, allowing you to identify and target poor performers and determine where appliance upgrades might be needed. Our consultants can also create a sound business case for installing new renewable energy equipment, by comparing both the opportunity cost of installing new fossil fuel systems, and the potential lifespan of new systems being installed.

IES’ tried-and-tested APACHE building physics engine is at the core of our software. When used alongside real-time metering data from buildings, it can deliver a building optimisation program to optimise the energy flows throughout your building and increase energy efficiency. Real-time metering can also be used to ensure the optimal building performance is achieved at all stages of the building’s life cycle, by monitoring occupant behavioural changes or identifying any equipment faults. 

Reducing emissions

IES can also assist you in reducing your portfolio’s overall emissions, by assessing current emissions and simulating these in line with future emission standards to create a carbon-neutral buildings roadmap. This roadmap can compare potential capital planning and operational strategies to determine which is most suitable for your portfolio to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

One such strategy could be switching away from oil, propane or natural gas fuels to electricity, as this can allow your portfolio to take advantage of the renewable content of the electric grid, which is expected to increase over time. Due to the current high cost of non-renewable fuels, switching to renewables can often yield immediate operational cost savings.

Any increased operational costs from switching to renewables can also be offset by the benefits that come with an upgraded energy system, such as improved operational efficiency. Occupant comfort can also benefit from switching to electric energy systems, as these typically include efficient cooling capabilities, and also improve overall air quality.

IES can use our digital twin technology to determine whether there is potential to generate cleaner energy on-site. In urban areas, roof-mounted solar panels are the most common way to generate energy, but IES’s expert consultants can determine which renewable technologies are most viable across your portfolio based on local resources and land availability. We can also use this information to help develop bespoke strategies, determining the most cost-effective solution available for energy network decarbonisation. 

Energy data verification

Our expert consultants, who are also certified, can help you verify the data you report to the city.

With our world-leading APACHE simulation engine at the core of our software, we can help confirm that your reports are accurate by automating the data being collected, simulate and forecast future energy predictions and conduct ongoing measurement and verification (M&V) to validate your energy savings and emissions reductions are on track to meet the standards set out by BERDO 2.0. This automation can also assist if your building needs to undergo an energy audit for receiving an Energy Star Score under 75.  

Do you own buildings larger than 20,000 square feet in Boston? Make sure your portfolio meets BERDO standards before penalties take effect. Get in touch with our team here, to find out more about how our physics-based digital twin building analytics software can deliver the data and investment grade decision information that you can trust.