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Boston Implements a Comprehensive Green Building Zoning Code

The Boston Zoning Commission has approved several amendments to the city’s zoning code that require all major new and rehabilitation construction projects exceeding 50,000 square feet earn a minimum 26 LEED New Construction points. This level is the baseline for LEED certification with the U.S. Green Buildings Council. While Washington, D.C., is planning to implement a similar mandate within a few years, and other major cities are also examining ways to mandate a minimal threshold for public building construction, Boston’s code change is the only one to affect both public and private construction.

“It’s immediate and pragmatic, which is excellent, and it has support of the industry,” observes Hubert Murray, AIA, principal of Hubert Murray Architect + Planner and 2007 president of the Boston Society of Architects (BSA). Murray testified on behalf of the BSA at a public hearing on the new code language in January. He explains that while Boston’s zoning commission was initially wary of writing LEED requirements into legislation, it ultimately chose the rating system because it is the most widely used at this time.

While Boston’s new regulations call for buildings to be certifiable, they do not actually require that property owners apply for certification. At least one person on the building team must be a LEED-certified professional and that person must ensure that the project achieves certifiable status.

John E. Czarnecki, Assoc. AIA