Boston is moving to make its buildings more energy efficient, taking aim at its biggest source of emissions by opting into the state's new "stretch" energy code and providing a way for large buildings to retrofit, Mayor Michelle Wu said Thursday.
The announcement is her latest attempt to implement a Boston Green New Deal, and Wu said the steps are ways "to make Boston the country's leading Green New Deal city."
Wu will file a bill Monday that would adopt Massachusetts' new goals from its energy efficiency-focused Stretch Energy Code, which will require most new buildings to be all electric, among other requirements.
At the same time, the city has created a program that offers up to $50,000 per apartment in existing large, income-restricted buildings to retrofit them. The announcement was made at the Brian Honan Apartments in Allston-Brighton, which will be one of the first complexes to take advantage of the retrofits, which Wu said "will cut the buildings' energy consumption by nearly half."
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The retrofitting will add insulation and other weatherization, more ventilation, energy efficient lighting and more.
Wu and other officials noted that about buildings account for three quarters of Boston's energy emissions; residential buildings account for half of that. They also noted that energy efficiency efforts tend to come from wealthy communities that can afford the expense, while communities that have contributed least to emissions but are hit the hardest don't often get to take advantage of green innovation, which makes heating cheaper and improves air quality.
"This is about making sure that people have the efficiency that they need but also the warmth that they need," Rev. Mariama White-Hammond, Boston's chief of environment, energy and open space.
When she ran for mayor, Wu pledged to make climate change and associated issues around equity and inclusion her immediate and top priority.
Climate activists have previously cheered the progress Wu made early in her tenure, including divesting the city from the fossil fuel and tobacco industries.
Wu said Thursday that city's commitment to ending fossil fuel emissions is part and parcel of it commitment to making it more affordable and easier to get around: "None of it matters if our city and planet are no longer livable."