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 the 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.

Read the Text of the Ordinance

Which Buildings are Covered by the Ordinance

The ordinance will cover:

  • Municipal buildings over 10,000 square feet in size;
  • Non-residential buildings over 25,000 square feet; and
  • Multi-family residential buildings with 50 and more units.

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. 

Reporting will begin according to this schedule:

  • During the first year of the ordinance, the City will report first (by December 31, 2014 for 2013 energy use). 
  • Non-residential buildings that are 50,000 sf or larger and residential buildings with 50+ units will report 2014 data by May 1, 2015. 
  • The remaining buildings larger than 25,000 sf will report 2015 data by May 1, 2016. 
  • 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) will be 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.

For More Information

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