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Boston Will Mandate Green Building- Public and Private- But Opts to Pass on LEED

Another day and another U.S. city is on the cusp of implementing green building legislation. All projects, public or private, of 50,000 square feet or more in Boston will be required to meet a city-developed green building standard. The new regulations will take effect in January after the public has an opportunity to comment and the Boston Zoning Commission adopts them into the municipal zoning code.

Unlike D.C., Boston is choosing not to use LEED. James W. Hunt III, chief of environmental and energy services for the city, says that “[t]he LEED process can be lengthy, onerous in documentation, and costly. . . . Also, we don’t want to rely on a third party to do the certification process.” Boston’s certification program will not be as strict as LEED, but it will essentially require the same environmental standards. The program will include 70 areas of construction and design requirements (from energy efficiency to waste management), but only mandate that buildings satisfy 26 of them.

This is terrific news for green building. In the final quarter of 2006, we’ve now seen two U.S. cities take major steps towards requiring green building standards for private projects. One city will use LEED (D.C.), the other won’t. It will be interesting to see how other municipalities react as, undoubtedly, more green building legislation governing private projects is proposed in 2007.

8 Responses to Boston Will Mandate Green Building- Public and Private- But Opts to Pass on LEED

  1. Josh December 28, 2006 at 1:46 am #

    When a major city goes green (or greener) there’s often a ripple effect. Up here in coastal Maine (about 1 ½ hours north of Boston) green building is gaining ground, partially because a number of commuters down to Boston are demanding it here. We purchased a loft in a reclaimed shoe factory and finished construction on it ourselves, going green wherever possible and couldn’t be happier.
    ( – for anyone interested, click on a page for video or photos). Ironically, careers dictate a move out of state so we’re selling the place but when we buy a new one we’ll take some of those lessons with us and will be seeking out a green builder or going green with renovations whenever possible, regardless of city mandate, but hopefully helping cities go green through consumer demand.

  2. CaptiousNut January 1, 2007 at 5:22 pm #

    When the city with the highest business costs in the country (200th place according to Forbes) decides to heap more onerous expenses on job creators, all that will cause is more people moving to less “green” cities. After all, everyone has to work.

    Boston simply isn’t economically wealthy enough to indulge in environmental fetishes.

  3. David January 8, 2007 at 11:43 pm #

    I have followed the links and reviewed the Boston Green Buildings Code story carefully and cannot understand how you reach the conclusion that Boston is opposed to requiring LEED Certification. The term is clearly used in the Mayor’s Dec 06 announcement!
    Please clarify! All best, David

  4. Stephen January 9, 2007 at 12:21 am #

    Thanks for the comment, David. The articles in the Boston Globe suggest that Boston will not incorporate LEED itself into its building code. Rather, the Mayor’s Green Building Task Force has developed its own standard (albeit modeled very closely on LEED) which it will adopt into the code after a public commenting period this month. The Mayor’s press release isn’t entirely clear- it refers to LEED “as defined by the Boston Interagency Green Building Committee.” Again, the press release might not see a difference between LEED and the standard that the Committee came up with, but I could be wrong. The Globe article states that “[t]he Boston standards would not require that the buildings be certified under the green building rating system known as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design — commonly called LEED — of the US Green Building Council, an industry group. ‘The LEED process can be lengthy, onerous in documentation, and costly,’’ [chief of environmental and energy services for the city James W.] Hunt said. ‘‘Also, we don’t want to rely on a third party to do the certification process.’’”

    This could all just be a matter of semantics, or my information could be incorrect. Does anyone else have any insight?

  5. Tripp February 10, 2007 at 9:44 pm #

    I’m not sure how you could reach that conclusion either. Boston is actually using the LEED standards as its requirement, and LEED is specifically referenced in its zoning article. The distinction is that an internal green buidling committee with undertake the certification process, and not rely on the USGBC to do the certifying. I beleive Washing DC is actually taking a similar approach, since they relied on Boston’s Green Building Task Force Report of 2004 for background. Washing DC’s regs do not take effect until 2012, while Boston’s zoning was adopted in January and is in effect today. Hope this clarifies.

  6. agb February 16, 2007 at 5:22 pm #

    For some on-the-ground perspective, I am an architect working in Boston for the City of Boston. Their goals are lagging on implementation at the project level. Their project managers have tended, in my experience, to be resistant to a new way of doing things, and as such have pushed for hedging major new changes like LEED certification and instead have opted for a “LEED-like standard” (their words). As budgets change, they want the flexibility to cut what they see as optional features – green design elements. From a committed green designer’s standpoint, it leaves a bit of a bad taste in my mouth as to their real commitment.

  7. Chris August 12, 2008 at 10:15 pm #

    On the one hand it is probably a good thing that LEED is becoming the dominant standard across the US so that everyone will be on the same page, but it is unfortunatley a costly process and that was probably the deal breaker for Boston.

    Everblue Energy


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