Mayor Katjana Ballantyne Testifies in Support of Home Rule Petition Establishing Net Zero Emissions Standard for New Construction & Major Renovation Projects in Somerville

Bill sponsored by Somerville Representatives Barber and Connolly would create path for Somerville to seek to pilot standards for fossil-fuel free construction and major renovations

SOMERVILLE – Mayor Katjana Ballantyne recently testified in support of Bill H.5291, presented by Representatives Christine P. Barber and Mike Connolly. The bill would position Somerville to seek authorization from the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) to pilot fossil-free new construction and major renovation standards for buildings.

“Two thirds of Somerville’s carbon emissions originate from buildings, and our community is uniquely positioned to act as a trailblazer as we all seek solutions to climate change,” said Somerville Mayor Katjana Ballantyne. “I want to thank Representative Barber, Representative Connolly and the entire state delegation for their hard work on this bill, and the Somerville community for tirelessly advocating for climate forward policies.”

Somerville has an established history of climate advocacy, particularly with stemming carbon emissions from new buildings. The city introduced its Climate Forward plan in 2018, which acknowledged that the city must reduce greenhouse gas emissions from new buildings to nearly zero in order to achieve its goal of carbon neutrality by 2050.

The City is currently working within the stretch energy code and is looking forward to considering adoption of the newly released specialized code. The specialized code, while an important step for the Commonwealth, allows for a pathway for fossil fuels in new construction and major renovations through 2050.

In August, An Act Driving Clean Energy and Offshore Wind was approved. This will create a first-of-its-kind pilot program allowing ten municipalities to ban the use of fossil fuels in new construction and major renovations with limited exceptions. By seeking authorization to participate in this program, Somerville aims to further reduce fossil fuel expansion and use; helping to protect residents and businesses against the health impacts of fossil fuel emissions and from utility costs. The program will further reduce greenhouse gas emissions from buildings for decades to come.

The DOER is expected to release program guidance by July 1, 2023. Somerville looks forward to working with the DOER through program development. If accepted into the program, Somerville is committed to engaging the public to develop the program implementation plan.

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