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The Boston Globe

Opinion

Lawrence Harmon

Labeling plan isn’t worth the energy

Mayor Menino wants building owners in Boston to collect data on their energy use and lay it at his feet. The mayor, who has pledged to make Boston the greenest city in America, is playing catch-up with San Francisco, New York, and other cities that require building owners to report water use, energy use, and greenhouse gas emissions. But Menino is also playing around with property values and the privacy of tenants.

The proposed ordinance would cover existing commercial buildings larger than 25,000 square feet and residential buildings with 25 or more units. Owners would be required to use a federal EPA software tool — Energy Star Portfolio Manager — to track their buildings’ overall energy use and that of their tenants. The information would then be converted into an energy performance rating — measured against a national benchmark — on a scale of 1 to 100. City Hall would post the ratings online. And owners and tenants who fail to report would face fines.

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