Statement: Senate takes an important step for Better Buildings

BOSTON – A bill approved by the Massachusetts Senate today would require the owners of large buildings — like hospitals, universities, office buildings, and large apartment complexes — to disclose their energy use each year.

Ben Hellerstein, state director for Environment Massachusetts, issued the following statement:

“The more we know about a problem, the better equipped we are to solve it. This legislation will gather a treasure trove of data on energy use in large buildings and help inform efforts by building owners, state leaders, and local officials to reduce global warming pollution.

Our buildings are responsible for more than 40 percent of Massachusetts’ greenhouse gas emissions. When we burn oil and gas for heating, we release dangerous pollution into our neighborhoods that is linked to asthma, heart attack, and a wide range of other health problems.

Better buildings are possible. We can make our buildings much more energy-efficient, and we can replace fossil fuel heating with clean, electric alternatives like heat pumps.

The language included in this bill is an important step toward better buildings. I congratulate Sen. Becca Rausch on her successful advocacy for these provisions, and I thank President Karen Spilka, Sen. Michael Rodrigues, Sen. Michael Barrett, and all the senators who supported this policy.

But we can’t stop there. Massachusetts must establish energy performance standards to drive improvements in energy efficiency and electrification. We will continue our advocacy for strong policies to reduce and eliminate fossil fuel use in existing buildings.”

The bill addresses a wide range of policy areas related to climate change, including solar and wind energy and electric vehicles.

Sen. Rausch offered two amendments to the climate bill to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from existing buildings.

Amendment 7, adopted by the Senate, would require the owners of large buildings (over 25,000 square feet) to report their energy use on an annual basis. It would also direct the Department of Energy Resources to analyze this building energy data and make it publicly available so that regulators, advocates, and members of the public can identify the areas with the greatest potential for emissions reductions.

Amendment 8 would have established energy performance standards requiring large buildings to reduce their emissions over time through efficiency and electrification. The Senate did not adopt Amendment 8.

After considering more than 150 amendments, senators voted 37–3 to pass the bill. A conference committee will likely be appointed to reconcile differences between the Senate bill and climate change legislation passed by the House.