Building Energy Use Disclosure Ordinance

The Building Energy Use Disclosure Ordinance was enacted by the Cambridge City Council on July 28, 2014. The ordinance is a key step in efforts to reduce Cambridge's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. 

Energy use in buildings accounts for about 80% of GHG emissions in Cambridge, with two-thirds of the total related to commercial, institutional, and large multifamily buildings.  Efforts to improve the energy performance of our building stock is hampered by the invisible nature of energy use. 

The ordinance is intended to address this problem by requiring owners of larger buildings to track and report annual energy use to the City and publicly disclose the data.  Disclosure places the information in the marketplace, where various users such as potential property buyers, tenants, realtors, energy service providers, and others can use the data and to help create value for higher energy performing properties.  The data will also aid the City and others in planning for higher energy performance in our building stock. 

The ordinance is a foundational strategy for various community sustainability initiatives including the Community Compact for a Sustainable Future, Kendall Square Ecodistrict, and efforts to move the community toward net zero emissions.

Which Buildings are Covered by the Ordinance

By December 31, 2014

  • Municipal buildings 10,000 S. F. or greater

By May 1, 2015

  • Municipal buildings 10,000 S. F. or greater
  • Parcels with non-residential buildings singly or together contain 50,000 S. F. or greater
  • Parcels with residential buildings singly or together contain 50 or more units

By May 1, 2016 and thereafter

  • Municipal buildings 10,000 S. F. or greater
  • Parcels with non-residential buildings singly or together contain 25,000 S. F. or greater
  • Parcels with residential buildings singly or together contain 50 or more units

The Community Development Department has developed lists of buildings that fall on parcels covered by the ordinance.  The lists indicate the map-lot number, street address, and unique building identification number for each building.  Under the ordinance, these buildings must be benchmarked in the Energy Star Portfolio Manager tool and reported to the Community Development Department by May 1, 2015.  Any questions about these buildings and the applicability of the ordinance should be submitted to the City via  Please note that while the City is continuing to contact individual property owners about the ordinance requirements, the ordinance applies whether the owners have been contacted or not.

What Does the Ordinance Require?

Building owners will be required to track their energy (i.e., electricity, natural gas, steam, and fuel oil) and water use and report it to the Community Development Department annually through the U.S. EPA’s Energy Star Portfolio Manager tool.  The web-based tool requires the user to input monthly energy and water data and building information.  The tool processes the information to show energy use intensity (i. e., energy use per square foot), greenhouse gas emissions, and other metrics. 

The first year of energy data will not be disclosed, except for municipal buildings.  This will give the City time to work out any problems with private building reporting and also give owners an opportunity to improve their energy performance before the first year of disclosure.

What Will the City Do with the Data

Beginning in the second year of reporting, the City will post the energy use data on the City website.  The Community Development Department (CDD) is working with stakeholders to work out implementation issues, including the design of the website and provision of contextual information.  CDD will also analyze the data to understand energy use patterns and trends in Cambridge and issue reports and use the data in local energy planning.

What Kinds of Support Will Building Owners Need

NSTAR has created a NSTAR building energy data portal to enable property owners to obtain building aggregated electricity and natural gas data.  Protections for tenant privacy are in place.  The Water Department will provide water use data and Veolia will provide district steam data where applicable. CDD will develop outreach and training programs to assist compliance.


Under the ordinance, the City of Cambridge is the first entity that is subject to the building energy use reporting and disclosure requirements.  Energy use data is reported for City-owned buildings that contain at least 10,000 square feet of floor area.  The following link leads to a summary of building energy statistics for the 2013 calendar year.  The City will report on 2014 energy data by May 1, 2015 along with private properties that are subject to the ordinance.

2013 Municipal Building Energy Data


Boston-Cambridge EPA Portfolio Manager Workshop February 3, 2015 Presentations:

For More Information

For questions or more information, contact John Bolduc, Environmental Planner, at or 617/349-4628.