Article 22 Green Building Requirements


Final Promulgation of Embodied Emissions Reporting Regulations Effective June 17, 2024 

In 2023, the Cambridge City Council passed an amendment to Zoning Article 22.20 - Green Building Requirements. This amendment modified the requirements for the Net Zero Narrative so that non-residential development consisting of at least 50,000 square feet must submit a whole building lifecycle analysis of estimated emissions generated by the construction of Green Building Projects. The amendment requires the Asst. City Manager to promulgate regulations for how these estimated emissions are to be reported. These regulations were posted here on March 1st, 2024. This public comment period closed on April 30th, 2024. Published here are the final regulations.

Accompanying the above draft regulations, the Community Development Department staff developed an Embodied Carbon Reporting Template detailing how estimated emissions are to be reported. This template is integrated into the Net Zero Narrative Template that is linked on this page. This template includes detailed reporting standards for estimated lifecycle emissions. 

In addition to the above Draft Regulations and Embodied Carbon Reporting Template, CDD has also developed an Embodied Carbon Education Toolkit to assist applicants in better understanding current best practices in conducting a whole building lifecycle analysis.

Applicants with questions on the submission of Embodied Carbon Reporting should contact CDD staff for additional guidance.


Article 22 Green Building Requirements

The City’s Green Building Requirements (Section 22.20 of the Zoning Ordinance) promote environmentally sustainable and energy-efficient design and development practices.  The requirements apply to developments of 25,000 square feet of more, including new construction and some types of substantial renovation. Applicants should review Section 22.20 carefully to determine what requirements apply.

Green Building Requirements were first adopted in 2010, following the recommendations of a Green Building/Zoning Task Force. The City's Green Building Requirements were amended and updated in December 2019, November 2020, and March 2023.

Review Section 22.20 of the Zoning Ordinance here.

Text of March 2023 Amendment approved by City Council here.


Developments subject to Green Building Requirements must demonstrate that they are designed to meet the standards of one of the following Green Building Rating Systems:

Certification by the rating agency is not required, but the developer must provide certification that the standards are being met from a Green Building Professional who meets both of the following qualifications:

  • Is a licensed architect or engineer.
  • Holds a credential from the applicable Green Building Rating Program (for example, LEED-Accredited Professional, Certified Passive House Consultant), or if the Green Building Rating Program does not offer such a credential, has experience as a project architect or engineer, or as a consultant providing third-party review, on at least three projects that have been certified using the applicable Green Building Rating Program.

Review definition of Green Building Professional in the Zoning Ordinance here.

Developments subject to Green Building Requirements must also implement an enhanced commissioning program and must submit an advisory “Net Zero Narrative” at the preliminary and final stage of review, reporting on initial and future projections for energy use and greenhouse gas emissions and discussing how the project aligns with the City’s Net Zero Action Plan.

Note: Any project subject to Green Building Requirements must use the most current version of the selected Green Building Rating System, except that within 12 months from the adoption of a new version, there is the option to apply using either the most current version or the preceding version.

Application and Review Process

After reviewing Section 22.20, an applicant can contact Community Development Department (CDD) staff for a meeting to discuss the project and the Green Building Requirements. CDD staff are available to review draft materials and answer any questions throughout the process. Send materials to

Before each of the following stages of review, a full set of materials must be submitted to CDD to review and verify that the Green Building requirements are met. 

  • Stage I: Special Permit Application (if applicable)
  • Stage II: Building Permit Application
  • Stage III: Certificate of Occupancy Application

Within 30 days after receipt of a complete set of documentation, CDD will provide a written notice whether the documentation sufficiently demonstrates compliance. CDD may request additional materials including requests for information, clarifications and updates relative to building design phases (i.e., drawings at end of schematics, design development and construction documents).


CDD staff have prepared a checklist as a guide to applicants when assembling materials at different stages of review. CDD staff have also provided a “Net Zero Narrative” template. These are provided for guidance only. Applicants should review Section 22.20 carefully for detailed requirements. 

The following affidavit forms must also be completed and submitted at the respective stages of review:

Existing Projects

The Article 22 Open Data Set and Dashboard are designed to profile all projects that have been subject to the City's Green Building Requirements since its adoption. It is the City's intention that the data presented will provide insight as to how buildings are being designed in keeping with the City's initiatives on building energy use and efficiency, sustainability, and resiliency.

Green Building Dashboard
Green Building Dashboard
Green Building Open Data
Green Building Open Data

Note: The data and information presented here are accurate at the time of publication and subject to revision or retraction at any time. The Article 22 Green Building requirements apply standards developed by industry-recognized rating programs (such as LEED, Passive House, and Enterprise Green Communities) but do not mandate that projects seek certification by a rating agency.

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