Good for Boston for proposing a reporting and disclosure ordinance regarding how much energy buildings use. Passing it would put us in the company of forward-thinking cities such as New York, Seattle, and San Francisco, which are already using such ordinances to become greener and more energy-efficient.
Lawrence Harmon’s grumbly column (“Labeling plan isn’t worth the energy,” Op-ed) criticizes the city’s proposal as aggravating for building owners. Perhaps, but not as aggravating as the growing impacts of climate change, or being left behind as other cities more quickly embrace a green future.
While Boston should work with the real estate industry on keeping compliance costs reasonable, the ordinance is an essential tool in helping the city meet its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020. Research has shown the effectiveness of benchmarking buildings’ energy use: a 2012 California study showed that 84 percent of owners who benchmarked their buildings went on to make energy-efficiency improvements.
Ordinances such as the one proposed also create green jobs and give consumers looking to buy or rent property useful information for making smart choices. What gets measured gets managed. Currently, information on buildings’ energy usage is scant. Boston’s proposed ordinance aims to change that, and deserves support.