In Massachusetts, officials are continuing to try to walk the climate change walk as well as talking the talk. Today, Governor Patrick and Secretary of Environmental Affairs Ian Bowles announced a program to encourage installation of solar panels on roofs and big box stores and other commercial buildings with flat roofs that are larger than 50,000 square feet.
Initially, the program will be voluntary, but there is no question that this is part of a broader effort by the administration to make energy efficiency a central issue in building design and construction. It is of a piece with the issuance of the greenhouse gas policy issued by the Commonwealth’s MEPA office and the requirement recently imposed by the Department of Public Health to require consideration of energy efficiency in making determinations of need for health care facilities.
The Governor also announced today an effort to develop a "super-efficient energy code for consideration by the Board of Building Regulations and Standards as a local option for municipalities that want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from development in their communities." This would be beyond the revised version of the state building code that is required by statute to incorporate requirements in the International Energy Conservation Code. This past year, developers successfully fought efforts that would have allowed communities to set their own energy standards in their building codes. Hopefully, this new effort, which would allow communities to adopt what the Commonwealth is calling the "stretch" code, but otherwise not allow different codes in different communities, will prove more manageable.
No doubt, the pace of incentives – and requirements – will only accelerate as the Commonwealth begins to implement the Global Warming Solutions Act over the coming months and years. Don’t blink or you’ll miss something.