Mayor Michelle Wu and the Mayor’s Office of Housing (MOH) announced the launch of a grant program aimed at supporting deep green energy retrofits (GERs) and decarbonization efforts in existing affordable housing buildings. Mayor Wu initially announced her intention to launch this program in March. The City now has established funding for energy assessments for income-restricted residential buildings, which is the first step in facilitating significant reductions in energy consumption and carbon emissions. This initiative, supported through ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funding, aligns with the City of Boston’s commitment to the Building Emissions Reduction and Disclosure Ordinance (BERDO), which sets requirements for large buildings to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions gradually to net zero by 2050. Through this grant program, the City is seeking to further the Mayor’s Green New Deal by creating cleaner affordable housing units to enhance the climate, livability and justice of Boston’s communities.
“Creating clean homes and improving the health of our communities must be at the center of our climate action,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “I’m grateful to the Mayor’s Office of Housing for their leadership in our Green New Deal efforts to make Boston’s buildings greener and more energy efficient.”
“By supporting comprehensive energy assessments, we are empowering building owners to make informed decisions and take meaningful steps towards a sustainable and healthier future,” said Sheila Dillon, Chief of Housing. “This program aligns with our commitment to BERDO and reinforces our dedication to equity, affordability, and environmental stewardship. We are excited to partner with building owners and continue our efforts to create a more sustainable and healthy Boston.”
As part of the support for deep energy retrofits and decarbonization efforts, building owners of affordable housing now have the opportunity to apply for grants of up to $10,000. These funds will be allocated towards comprehensive energy assessments, which will enable building owners to evaluate the current performance of their buildings and develop strategies to achieve substantial energy savings and carbon emission reductions. This initiative will also allow the City to gain more insight into the specific measures that can be taken to significantly reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions in affordable housing.
By completing these comprehensive energy assessments, building owners will not only contribute to a greener environment but also enhance the safety, comfort, and sustainability for residents. Moreover, these assessments can serve as a roadmap offering building-specific strategies to comply with BERDO while providing building owners with valuable guidance. Building owners who complete the assessments will be well-positioned to apply for additional funding from MOH and other sources to implement the identified GER measures.
“We firmly believe that the residents of affordable housing in Boston should be the first to experience the transformative benefits of the Green New Deal,” said Green New Deal Director Oliver Sellers-Garcia. “This means providing them with cleaner and more comfortable buildings year-round. Our commitment to this program showcases our strategic utilization of ARPA funding to make targeted investments that enhance quality of life and promote equity. As we move forward, we will persist in our efforts to secure Federal climate funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act, leveraging our early successes with ARPA funds. Together, we will continue to build a sustainable future that leaves no one behind.”
The City anticipates that the comprehensive energy assessments can be scoped, completed, and with funds disbursed within 3-6 months of the grant award. After a thorough evaluation process, including eligibility confirmation under ARPA guidelines and suitability assessment, MOH received a total of 20 applications representing 56 buildings and 2,078 units across the city. After review, the Office of Housing will be awarding grants to all 20 applicants. The exact amount of funds to be disbursed will be determined based on the approved scopes of work. The Office of Housing will continue to accept applications on a rolling basis. To apply, please visit this link.
“With the Mayor’s Office of Housing’s support, 2Life Communities can begin to comprehensively plan for the future of Leventhal House, a 254-apartment building that has served hundreds of residents for more than 50 years,” said Lizbeth Heyer, 2Life Communities’ Vice President and Acting CEO. “These funds will allow our organization to explore greater energy efficiency and resiliency, a reduced environmental impact, and, most importantly, enhanced comfort for our residents at Leventhal House for years to come.”
It is important to note that while not all the buildings represented are 100 percent affordable, MOH’s grant funds will be proportionally allocated to each comprehensive energy assessment based on the number of eligible affordable units (affordable to households at or below 100 percent of the Area Median Income).
The City is embedding the Green New Deal throughout City initiatives, making healthier and cleaner communities for all of our residents. In July, Mayor Wu signed an Executive Order (EO) Eliminating the Use of Fossil Fuels in New Construction and Major Renovations of City Buildings. While the EO exempts projects already in procurement, design, or construction, it requires all new municipal buildings and major renovations to operate without fossil fuel usage.
Additionally, previously in March, Mayor Wu launched the Large Building Green Energy Retrofits Program—an initiative under the Mayor’s Office of Housing supported by $10 million in ARPA funding. Today’s announcement is an update to this programming, granting $10,000 for technical assistance grants that help building owners plan toward achieving BERDO compliance and deep energy retrofits of their buildings. The City intends to provide additional funding when the assessments are complete. These green energy retrofitting measures include installation of energy-efficient lighting and appliances, installation of solar panels, and more. The City announced its intention to expand on these initiatives with a retrofit program for smaller residential buildings and a program specific to retrofitting the Boston Housing Authority. These programs that will mitigate carbon emissions from the building sector and improve housing affordability reinforce the Mayor’s commitment to a Green New Deal approach to working toward environmental and economic justice in Boston.