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Wu Signs Executive Order Banning Fossil Fuels In New City Buildings

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu at Bisnow's Boston Multifamily Conference.

In a new step to meet Boston’s ambitious climate goals, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu signed an executive order to ban fossil fuels in new city-owned buildings.

The order, announced Monday, would also apply to major renovations done to existing city-owned buildings. The order will take effect immediately.

With over 16M SF of real estate in its portfolio, Boston officials have set upon a path to decarbonize the city's buildings, and they have begun to push private developers to do the same. 

“The benefits of embracing fossil fuel-free infrastructure in our City hold no boundary across industries and communities, and Boston will continue using every possible tool to build the green, clean, healthy, and prosperous future our city deserves,” Wu said in a statement.

The city is defining major renovations as those that are planned for 75% or more of the building’s square footage. The Boston Operations Cabinet will also conduct a facilities condition assessment to identify these projects, and its FY24-29 Capital Plan includes $132.5M in design projects that will advance decarbonization efforts.

Wu was joined at Monday's signing event by Green New Deal Director Oliver Sellers-Garcia, the operations cabinet, Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson, and local climate and labor activists.

The new executive order follows the update to the city’s Building Emissions Reduction and Disclosure Ordinance, which requires large buildings in the city to reduce their emissions to get to net-zero by 2050, and Wu's Green New Deal campaign promises.

In March, Wu proposed a new building stretch code that would discourage private developers from using fossil fuels in new construction projects in the city, the Boston Globe reported. The code stopped short of completely banning fossil fuels.

Last August, Wu signed a home rule petition to allow the city to participate in a state pilot program to ban fossil fuels in new construction, except for labs and hospital projects. The home rule petition was approved in a 9-3 city council vote in September, WBGH reported.