The Ordinance Committee held a public hearing on June 24, 2014 beginning at 3:14 p.m. in the second floor meeting room at 344 Broadway, Cambridge, MA.
The purpose of the hearing was to discuss a proposed amendment to the Municipal Code entitled "Building Energy Use Disclosure Ordinance."
Present at the hearing were Vice Mayor Dennis A. Benzan and Councillor Dennis J. Carlone, Co-Chairs of the Committee, Councillor Nadeem Mazen, Councillor Craig Kelley, Nancy Glowa, City Solicitor, Vali Buland, First Assistant City Solicitor, John Bolduc, Environmental Planner, Susanne Rasmussen, Director of Environmental and Transportation Planning, Community Development Department, Sandra Albano, Executive Assistant to the City Council, Paula M. Crane, Administrative Assistant, and Marybeth Cosgrove, Operations Manager, City Clerk's Office.
Also present were Leslie Cook, Program Manager, ENERGY STAR Commercial and Industrial Branch, United States Environmental Protection Agency, Steven Lanou, Deputy Director, Office of Sustainability, Sarah Gallop, Co-Director, Office of Government and Community Relations, MIT, Henrietta Davis, Bryan Koop, Boston Properties, Ian Finlayson, Deputy Director for Energy Efficiency, DOER, Sarah Kennedy, Director of Government Affairs, Cambridge Chamber of Commerce, Carolyn Sarno, Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships (NEEP), George Smith, Director of Operations and Campus Planning, John Sullivan, Lesley University, Cyndi Vert, Linda Darreau, EPA, Jim Newman, Ben Myers, James Cater, Robert Winters, Rosalie Anders, Jane Carbone, Quinton Zondervan, Heather Henriksen, Director of Sustainability, Harvard University, Barun Singh, and Joe Maguire, Alexandria Real Estate Equities.
Councillor Carlone convened the hearing and stated that there will be a presentation and following that presentation there will be discussion within the City Council.
John Bolduc gave an overview of the proposed Building Energy Use Disclosure Ordinance. He stated that Cambridge has a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by the year 2050. He then gave a Power Point presentation. (Attachment A).
Councillor Kelley asked about the ordinance as it relates to tenants. He asked if only the agent will be entering data for building. Mr. Bolduc stated that there are a lot of privacy concerns as well as trade issues in disclosing energy use data for individual organizations or businesses. The ordinance is focused on understanding the entire energy performance of a building so having data aggregated for the whole building is what they are aiming for. Councillor Kelley asked if any of the ordinances from other cities look at tenants rather than whole buildings. Mr. Bolduc stated the enforcement of tenants is problematic and that it is not efficient to force these types of ordinances with tenants who are not cooperating.
Councillor Kelley stated the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager is on the EPA platform. He questioned what would happen if the EPA gives up or switches to another platform. Leslie Cook, from the US EPA, answered that the EPA will continue to support the Portfolio Manager and assured Councillor Kelley that this should not be a concern.
Councillor Kelley asked for clarification regarding any buildings that contain 50+ units. Mr. Bolduc stated that any building or apartment with 50+ units is included. He noted that all of those buildings will be able to get aggregated data from NSTAR. He noted that unit information is not available to anyone but NSTAR. Mr. Bolduc stated that water data tends to be common meters for buildings so they do not expect that to be an issue.
Councillor Kelley asked Mr. Bolduc if municipal data encompasses the school district. Mr. Bolduc answered in the affirmative.
Councillor Mazen asked about the lack of follow-up requirements in the ordinance, in contrast to some cities like Boston, that require buildings that do not perform up to a specified standard to make improvements. Mr. Bolduc noted that the City wished to respect the Getting to Net Zero Task Force process which is expected to address strategies and actions to improve building energy performance. He stated that they do not want to presume what the measures will be. The task force's recommendations could be added to the disclosure ordinance through amendments at a later time or put into separate ordinances if appropriate.
Susanne Rasmussen stated that they are not ready to speak about the recommendations of the Net Zero Task Force. In these types of ordinances, the two things that might be included, based on the example of other cities like New York and Boston, are an energy audit requirement and/or a requirement to implement measures if goals are not met. She stated that the task force is looking to develop a comprehensive set of strategies by the end of the year, so now is not the right time to propose strategies for inclusion in the ordinance. She stated that the goal for the proposed ordinance is to get the energy use data as soon as possible because it is critical for planning.
Vice Mayor Benzan asked about non-compliance and penalties. He asked how this ordinance compares to other states and municipalities. Mr. Bolduc stated that they are following the allowable guidelines under state statute. He stated that the intention is to avoid issuing fines and to perform outreach and education and make it as easy as possible for people to comply. Vice Mayor Benzan asked who would enforce the ordinance. Mr. Bolduc responded that it would be the Community Development Department. Ms. Glowa stated that the violations could be as high as $300.00 per day but warnings and lesser fines can be issued as well.
Councillor Carlone stated that on any strategy, you need accurate data for the benefit of all.
Councillor Carlone opened the meeting to public comment at 4:05 p.m.
Leslie Cook, from the US EPA, spoke about the value of benchmarking energy use in commercial buildings as well as the capabilities of the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager tool. She stated that the EPA has developed Portfolio Manager to assist building owners and managers to measure and assess energy use in a standardized way. She stated that benchmarking the energy use of commercial buildings is a critical first step on the path to superior energy efficiency. (Attachment B).
At this time Councillor Carlone acknowledged the attendance of former Mayor and City Councillor Henrietta Davis.
Bryan Koop, Senior VP and Regional Manager, Boston Properties, stated his firm's endorsement for the ordinance. He stated that a scoreboard is essential. He noted that buildings are a more significant business than people understand. He stated that if we are serious about goals set forth as a community, we need to keep score. He stated that measurement and verification is essential in running these buildings. He said that Portfolio Manager is a very effective tool in allocating capital dollars each year. He stated that score boarding drives behavior and that transparency is a great asset with their customers. He stated that Boston Properties just received LEED Platinum Certification for a building that they just finished. He thanked Mr. Bolduc and the team for their inclusiveness.
Ian Finlayson stated that the majority of energy savings come from the commercial and industrial sector. He noted that a lack of information and data flow is a barrier and that disclosure is pivotal.
Sarah Kennedy, Director of Government Affairs, Cambridge Chamber of Commerce, stated the Chamber represents a breadth of organizations that fall along a wide spectrum of energy use. She stated that the businesses of this community share concerns of how the data will be reported and presented to the public and how will buildings that are not alike, e.g. labs, mixed-use, single use and residential, be separated into the appropriate categories so they are not comparing apples to oranges. She stated that not all buildings can be viewed through the same lens. She encouraged the city to consider incentives to reduce usage and arrive at common goals which are more effective than penalties. (Attachment C).
Carolyn Sarno, Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnership, stated that NEEP aims to achieve significant energy savings and greenhouse gas reductions in new construction, remodeling, and renovations by advocating for advanced building energy codes and code-related public policies, such as building energy rating and disclosure. She stated that she is a former facilities manager who has managed a wide variety of building stock. She stated that she knows firsthand the opportunities that building energy reporting and disclosure can hold for both building owners and tenants. She spoke in support of Cambridge's proposed ordinance which would result in direct benefits for the residents, building owners, electric ratepayers, industries and small businesses. She commended the city on this important public policy. She stated that as a former facilities manager she was taught that you can't monetize what you haven't measured. She stated that studies have shown that measuring increases productivity. (Attachment D).
John Sullivan, Director of Communications, Lesley University, asked if it is possible to opt-in to this program rather than a mandatory reporting requirement. Mr. Bolduc stated that the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager has been available on a voluntary basis for over 15 years. He noted that there are many more buildings that we need to get involved in benchmarking. He stated that they are pushing for disclosure of data because putting the data into the marketplace will help drive change. Mr. Sullivan stated that an awareness campaign could be utilized.
Steve Lanou stated that MIT and the city have a long and productive history of collaboration and problem-solving on important issues related to the quality of life in Cambridge. He applauded the city for its leadership in seeking to improve energy management practices and energy use benchmarking city-wide through the proposed ordinance. He offered that the ordinance recognize that energy use information alone is not adequate to indicate if energy performance of a building is "good" or "bad." He stated that implementation of the ordinance must provide ample context of the relationship among research benefits, innovation and energy use. He stated that using data collected through the ordinance for benchmarking performance among stakeholders could be very useful, but only if it is compared through an "apples-to-apples" methodology. He encouraged the city to develop reporting requirements that are not perceived as onerous but are recognized as value-added. He asked that the implementation plan be mindful that the ordinance not create unintended disincentives for certain positive energy practices. (Attachment E).
George Smith, Director of Operations and Campus Planning, stated that Lesley University is very supportive of the ordinance and the university is committed to energy reduction. He stated that Lesley has had a number of projects and the way they construct buildings is high on list of important issues. They are currently using Portfolio Manager and it is helpful tool in terms of continued reduction and use of energy. He stated that informed change cannot be made without good data analysis. One main concern is the issue of contextual information and categorizing buildings correctly. They have diverse portfolio of properties. He stated that Lesley would like to be an integral part of the working team that will develop the details of the ordinance as it moves forward.
Jim Newman, 11 Stearns Street, Chair of the Massachusetts Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council, stated that he supports this ordinance as a resident and in his capacity with the USGBC. This is one of the USGBC's primary advocacy foci. They are excited to work with their chapter buddies in Vermont who are working with the City of Burlington on a similar initiative. It is a goal because it is valuable in providing the actual data that drives policy. Also, this ordinance has very strong support of the membership of the Mass Chapter of GBC. He stated that the chapter is prepared to provide support and training to the city if called upon. As a resident, he is excited that this is a strong step in continuing the process of supporting goals in energy reduction. There is a value in keeping score as a resident.
Ben Myers, 62 Plymouth St, stated that he is a Boston Properties construction manager. He stated that currently there is not great data. He stated that Cambridge is a world class city and this is a world class measure. He applauds the City Council and the City of Cambridge for seeing this through.
James Cater, NSTAR, stated that he is the program manager for the utility's energy data portal which provides aggregated building data to facilitate compliance with Boston energy use disclosure ordinance. He stated that he is the point of contact for the Boston ordinance and noted that he will be the contact person for building owners in Cambridge.
Jane Carbone, 280 Franklin Street, Director of Housing Development, Homeowners Rehab Inc., stated that HRI has been using energy tracking software that tracks energy consumption in their properties. This allows them to identify buildings and prioritize improvements to reduce consumption. She stated that the Portfolio Manager tool will be compatible with the Wegowise tool they currently use. HRI is concerned about climate change. She stated that when improvements are done within their properties, they make sure to include resident education. She would like to be involved to help the city with the mechanics of how the ordinance will be implemented. (Attachment F).
Henrietta Davis thanked the Community Development Department for the process in developing the disclosure ordinance. She noted that this is a number of years in the making. She noted that measuring is the first step. She stated that there is not a way to figure out what needs to be done if you cannot measure it. She pointed out that most of the things that have been done in Cambridge target new construction but existing buildings are a tremendous challenge. To really move people to take action to make changes there needs more "lift." Getting the message out has never been easy. She stated that she is a member of the Net Zero Task Force and for that task force to implement its work, this ordinance will be extremely helpful.
Quinton Zondervan stated that he is the president of Green Cambridge, He stated that he is looking forward to the adoption of the ordinance. He stated that without building energy disclosure, we cannot effectively track and ultimately reduce building energy consumption. He commended the city staff for their active dialogue with the citizens to anticipate and resolve as many concerns as possible prior to adoption and implementation of the ordinance. (Attachment G).
Heather Henriksen stated that Harvard has been working to address the challenge of climate change and environmental sustainability and has focused on modeling an institutional pathway to a more sustainable future. She stated that a key component of Harvard's energy reduction strategy is to operate their buildings more efficiently through energy audits, energy conservation measures and continuous commissioning. She stated that Harvard University supports the proposed ordinance as a means to help the City of Cambridge and the broader community better understand energy use in buildings. She encouraged the City Council to consider the following points as they review the proposed ordinance as these would impact the effectiveness of the ordinance's implementation: Property owners should not be required to provide any building identifiers for commercial properties to ensure the safety of buildings, Harvard has concerns about how the data will be presented and interpreted, and the implementation of similar ordinances has found that incentives work better than penalties at encouraging building owners to explore innovative energy reductions across their building portfolio. She stated that Harvard is proud of their continued partnership with the City of Cambridge to confront the challenge of climate change. (Attachment H)
Councillor Mazen asked Ms. Henriksen for clarification as it relates to building identifiers. He asked if she was speaking about climate activism extremism? Ms. Henriksen stated that Harvard feels that it is not necessary to say a building name, rather than the type of building.
Barun Singh, Cambridge resident, Net Zero Task Force, stated his support for the ordinance. He stated that he is president of Wegowise which provides energy tracking services. He stated that benchmarking is the first step. He stated that data helps people perform analysis on what sort of products make sense. He stated that he believes the evidence shows when you enforce the penalties, it works better. He stated that it is useful to collect building identifiers but it is not necessary to put building addresses. He stated that the Net Zero Task Force will find that if it has better data, they could have more concrete recommendations.
Joe McGuire, Alexandria Properties, stated that there is a missing element. As the owners of the building, they do not have the meters in their name. It takes the tenants' cooperation in order to do that. He stated that penalties applied when a tenant is the cause for them not being able to provide data should not be part of this ordinance. He noted that Alexandria Properties has used ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager on many buildings so his company wants to do the right thing in terms of sustainability. He stated that ENERGY STAR is devoid of a category for laboratories. He would like the city to continue to be the world class center for life science and foster growth in a sustainable manner.
John Bolduc stated that if an owner cannot get data from a tenant and if there are buildings that don't meet thresholds wherein the owner goes to tenant and the tenant declines, the owner can estimate energy use with factors to be provided by the City and the owner will not be penalized. But in most cases, the NSTAR energy data portal will provide the aggregated energy use data that owners will need to comply.
Public Comment closed at 5:15 p.m.
Councillor Carlone noted the committee received written a communication from Laurie Kerr, City Energy Project, Natural Resources Defense Council and Caroline Keicher, Associate Director, Building Energy Performance Policy, Institute for Market Transformation. (Attachment I).
Councillor Carlone stated that there are a few questions that have arisen in the meeting and looks forward to these questions being answered on Monday, June 30, 2014 at the City Council meeting.
Vice Mayor Benzan made the motion to refer the proposed ordinance to the full City Council with a favorable recommendation.
The motion passed on a voice vote.
Ms. Glowa stated that there is a lack of consistency between the definition of covered property and the benchmarking requirements concerning residential buildings. She stated that City staff could provide draft amendments to the proposed ordinance which would be available to the full City Council on Monday, June 30, 2014 (Attachment J).
Vice Mayor and Councillor Carlone thanked all those present for their attendance.
The hearing adjourned at 5:24 p.m.
For the Committee,
Vice Mayor Dennis A. Benzan, Co-Chair
Councillor Dennis J. Carlone, Co-Chair