Emission Factors & Power Purchase Qualifications for Boston’s Building Performance Standard (BERDO)

City of Boston
Project Completed

The City of Boston hired Synapse to make recommendations to inform Boston’s Building Emissions Reduction and Disclosure Ordinance (BERDO) rulemaking related to emissions from energy use and eligibility criteria for renewable energy purchases. BERDO regulates direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions associated with energy use in medium- and large-sized commercial and multifamily buildings. Synapse’s research, analysis, and recommendations will help prepare local stakeholders to ensure buildings decarbonize in alignment with the policy.

Synapse identified data sources and methods for estimating historical and future emission factors for energy use in buildings. We evaluated various approaches, weighing the pros and cons, and identified best practices to inform the regulation development process. Our review encompassed marginal, average, residual, and time-of-use emission factors; grid geography and topology effects; historical and future emission factors; and the effects of state renewable portfolio standards on emissions accounting. We also applied best practice methods to allocate emissions to the concurrent outputs from co-generation plants, such as steam, hot water, chilled water, and electricity. Based on the results of this research, Synapse recommended emission factors for grid electricity, district steam, and combustion fuels, including a forecast of electricity emission factors under the Massachusetts renewable portfolio standard and related policies.

To support our review of emission factors, Synapse also evaluated standards and approaches for counting renewable energy purchased through a power purchase agreement. We prepared eligibility criteria intended to ensure additionality. Finally, we recommended emissions accounting methods for when buildings use power purchase agreements to demonstrate BERDO compliance.

Learn more about Synapse's involvement in BERDO.