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Mayor Wu signs executive order banning fossil fuels in new city-owned buildings

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu signed an executive order Monday eliminating fossil fuel usage for new construction and major renovations of city buildings.Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

Mayor Michelle Wu signed an executive order Monday afternoon banning fossil fuels in city construction and major renovations, as Boston works to achieve its climate goal of being carbon neutral by 2050.

The order will require that more than 380 city-owned buildings — which include government offices, schools, and public housing — be fossil fuel-free for heating, cooling, hot water, and cooking, officials said at a signing event Monday.

Wu made a commitment to decarbonize city buildings as part of her State of the City address in January, and in May she announced a $2 billion plan to overhaul Boston’s public school facilities.


Years of planning and advocacy have led to what Wu said will be a “major undertaking,” as the city worked to ensure that its plan was feasible. With buildings responsible for 70 percent of the city’s emissions, the order is intended to make a major reductionin fossil fuel dependency in Boston.

“It’s hard to feel hopeful some days about the state of what is confronting us and the many stark reminders that we see from all around the world,” Wu said at the signing event. “Wherever we can, at whatever scale possible, we have to be accelerating those deadlines and doing whatever we can, with all that we have, today.”

Wu was joined by city Green New Deal Director Oliver Sellers-Garcia, Deputy Chief of Operations Morgan McDaniel, Boston Climate Action Network Advocacy Director Hessann Farooqi, and City Councilor Kendra Lara, who chairs the council’s committee on environmental justice.

“The buildings we have now are the buildings we’re going to have in 2050,” Sellers-Garcia said. “We’ve got to work with what we have.”

In addition to its climate benefits, Wu hopes the order will create jobs, improve public health, and help address racial and economic disparities, she said. Climate-friendly appliances such as heat pumps and induction stoves have traditionally only been accessible to wealthier residents, but this order could bridge the gap for lower-income residents and lower their energy bills as well, officials said.


“This order today is not just a commitment to a resilient Boston,” Lara said. “It’s a commitment in ensuring that the communities who are going to be most directly impacted by the impacts of climate change are going to be at the center of all of our decision making.”

The order went into effect immediately, exempting projects for which it is now too late to transition away from fossil fuels, though those buildings will be set up so that it’s easier to go fossil fuel-free, according to McDaniel.

Projects in development that will adhere to the new standards include the William E. Carter School in Roxbury and the Josiah Quincy Upper School in Chinatown, as well as new fire stations, police stations, and libraries.

Sarah Raza can be reached at Follow her @sarahmraza.