Building Emissions

Buildings are the largest source of measured emissions in Cambridge. Reducing emissions from buildings requires reducing the amount of fuel and energy used in buildings and replacing fossil fuel use with electricity.

Estimates show that the emissions reductions attributed to the following strategies will not get us to carbon neutrality by 2050. However, we will continually re-evaluate these strategies to find new opportunities to achieve greater energy efficiency. In addition to this, it is critical that the portion of our electricity supply that is generated by renewable, low or zero carbon sources continually increases.

There may be some emissions that simply cannot be eliminated. For any residual emissions, the City will explore how it can offset these emissions by investing in a project that reduces a source of emissions outside of the Communities emissions.

Cambridge Building Emissions

Energy Efficiency in Existing Buildings 

Existing buildings account for XX% of the building emissions sector. Making our existing buildings more energy efficient is a key strategy for reducing Community-wide emissions

Explore the development of a 'custom' retrofit program that expands on current utility retrofit incentives NZAP Action 1.1.1
Introduce additional requirements to BEUDO
NZAP Action 1.1.2
Explore a requirement for energy upgrades at the time of renovation of sale NZAP Action 1.1.3
Require energy management plans detailing new building operations and maintenance NZAP Action 1.1.4

Energy Supply

The energy we use to heat and cool our buildings needs to come from a low or zero carbon supply. To achieve our carbon neutral goal, fossil fuel use needs to be replaced with electricity that is generated from renewable, zero carbon sources, like solar and wind.

Create and enact a low carbon energy supply strategy NZAP Action 3.1
Introduce a requirement for onsite renewable energy generation, with a focus on rooftop solar NZAP Action 3.2
Develop a memorandum of understanding with local utilities to work closely with the City on taking action towards net zero emissions NZAP Action 3.3
Support the purchasing of sustainable power with a community electricity aggregation program Cambridge Community Electricity program
Procure 100% of municipal electricity from renewable energy sources Envision Cambridge

Net Zero New Construction

New construction is a small portion of the projected emissions in Cambridge compared to existing buildings, but it is important to set a standard for all new construction to achieve net zero, as these buildings will eventually become the building stock of our future.

Create net zero targets for new construction NZAP Action 2.1
Explore the potential impact of offering additional floor area allowance and extra height to projects that achieve net zero emissions NZAP Action 2.2.2; Envision Cambridge
Increase Green Building Requirements in Cambridge Zoning Ordinance NZAP Action 2.2.3
Require net zero construction or 'net zero ready' for new City-owned buildings NZAP Action 2.4.1
Require deep energy retrofits for City-owned buildings undergoing major renovation NZAP Action 2.4.2
Remove barriers to increased insulation NZAP Action 2.5.1
Establish regulations and design guidelines for new buildings and re-developments to be resilient to future heat risks Preparedness &  Resilience Plan
Establish a cool roof requirement for new construction (compatible with solar-ready) Preparedness & Resilience Plan; Envision Cambridge

Local Carbon Fund & Engagement and Capacity Building


Undertake feasibility study and solicit a third-party organization to administer a local carbon fund NZAP Action 4.1
Develop a long-term communications strategy around the Cambridge Net Zero objective  NZAP Action 5.1
Engage with stakeholders to develop new standards for lab operations that support lower energy use NZAP Action 5.3