Energy associated with building use is by far the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in Cambridge.
In fact, the city's Climate Protection Action Committee reports that over 80% of our city's emissions come from the daily operation of buildings. Given the urgency of the climate crisis, it makes sense to look at the zoning code as a mechanism for managing our carbon footprint.
Working together, we have the capacity to steer our city away from fossil fuels and toward renewable resources such as wind, solar, geothermal and biomass. We do not have to wait for transformative policies to emerge from far-flung places such as Doha, Copenhagen or Washington, D.C. Instead, we can take bold action right now, putting into practice that old, familiar adage: Think globally, act locally.
According to Ed Woll, chairman of the Energy Committee for the Massachusetts Sierra Club, the time for Cambridge to make the switch to renewables is now: “You will hear from developers that renewable energy is too expensive. Well, I don’t think that’s true. Given the studies we’ve seen, it’s actually less expensive than fossil fuels,” Woll said, testifying before the City Council in support of our petition last month. “This is innovative, but that’s what we in Cambridge are good at.”
This notion – that we’ve entered a new era of cleantech innovation, rendering the old dichotomy between the environment and the economy as a thing of the past – was echoed last month by President Barack Obama when he addressed students at Georgetown University:
Convince those in power to reduce our carbon pollution. Push your own communities to adopt smarter practices. Invest. Divest. Remind folks there’s no contradiction between a sound environment and strong economic growth.
With our proposal for net zero buildings, we are working to answer the president's call to action on the most important challenge of our time.