O’Malley: This Is My Most Proud Legislative Achievement

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District 6 City Councilor Matt O'Malley says that in his 10 years on the Boston City Council he can clearly point to his proudest legislative achievement.

And we're going to let O'Malley to fully explain why the passage of BERDO 2.0 is his great legislative achievement. O'Malley sent out the following message via newsletter:

District 6 City Councilor Matt O'Malley after the passage of BERDO 2.0. (Photo from Matt O'Malley's office)

After a decade serving in elected office, I can honestly say that this is my most proud legislative achievement.

Here's why:

In 2010 I was elected to the council, in part, because I'm an environmentalist. Since then, I've led on a whole host of issues ranging from water filling stations in our parks to plastic bag reduction to wetlands protection to increased renewable energy sources (among others).

In 2013 I worked with Mayor Tom Menino (who doesn't get nearly enough credit for his environmentalism) in passing the first BERDO ordinance. BERDO 1.0 simply began tracking the utility usage for our large (35K+ sq ft) buildings.

And let me tell you it was TOUGH to get through!

Ultimately it passed the Council 9-4, but there was a lot of opposition from some in the real estate community. We got it over the finish line with our messaging: what gets measured, gets managed. And that's precisely what we did.

With the original BERDO, we saw compliance that exceeded our expectations. We also saw buildings making efficiency upgrades on their own because BERDO proved our hypothesis: 99.9% of the time, an energy efficient building is going to save $$ on utility costs.

(I have long since maintained that every fiscal conservative ought to be an environmentalist)

About four years ago, I began working on legislation to address Boston's largest carbon emitters: our buildings.

The Boston Globe printed my op-ed back in 2019.

The work on my Net Zero Carbon construction legislation focused on three key aspects: municipal buildings (because they were the lowest hanging fruit), new large (20K+ sq ft) construction, and existing large (20 sq ft+) building retrofits or BERDO 2.0.

Municipal construction was first. We got it done in 2019.

New large construction is ongoing, but we're going to get it done.

The tallest order was always going to be BERDO 2.0 (which includes existing buildings and obviously new buildings will have to comply).

And we got it done [September 22].

What makes BERDO 2.0 special is that it will be impactful in a whole host of ways. It has aggressive but achievable goals.

We didn't just pass an ordinance to pat ourselves on the back. We passed an ordinance that will fundamentally change for the better the future of our city.

Impacting just 4% of our buildings, BERDO 2.0 will cut 37,000,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas from our atmosphere.

In other words, we will see a nearly 60% decrease of our GHGs.

We're doing this work looking through the lens of equity. While other city's ordinances have a fine or alternative compliance structure that goes into the general fund, we've established an Equitable Emissions Investment Fund.

The EEIF will prioritize Environmental Justice Populations by improving or promoting: affordable housing, air quality improvement, reduced energy burdens, and/or infrastructure improvements.

Community is a key aspect of this ordinance. Not only did a wide and deep coalition come together to draft and support this ordinance, we have established in it a 9 person review board (with 2/3rds nominated by community based organizations) of experts to continue the work.

Earlier I mentioned how it was difficult to pass the original BERDO.

This time couldn't have been more different.

Developers, industry folks, and the real estate community always had a seat at the table (and will continue to) and made this a better product.

We worked collaboratively without sacrificing our principles and, as a result, ended up with an unanimous vote of support.

In addition to Mayor Menino, Mayor Marty Walsh deserves enormous thanks. Our Secretary of Labor was crucial to getting that coalition of supporters together (and getting them to stay together!). This is part of his legacy too.

Mayor Kim Janey was terrific on this. I don't think we've ever had any legislative and executive body work as closely together on anything! She was a crucial and unwavering supporter and I can't wait for the bill signing. Shout out to Chief Cook, Chief White-Hammond, and Commissioner Brizius.

I asked Councilor Annissa Essaibi-George and Councilor Michelle Wu to join me at yesterday's press conference because they were such strong and pivotal co-sponsors of BERDO 2.

I am excited & grateful that our next mayor will make sure that implementation of this landmark legislation exceeds our high expectations.

I need to close out by thanking Jessica Morris, the myriad activists, staff, & well wishers who made it possible. Whether you contacted a councilor, testified at a hearing, offered feedback or simply rooted for us, you wrote the #BostonGreenprint

For that I am eternally grateful.