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Boston Businesses Cut GHG Emissions 4%

The headquarters of Au Bon Pain, Blue Cross-Blue Shield and other Boston businesses participating in the Challenge for Sustainability in 2012 reduced their overall greenhouse gas emissions by 4 percent — or 7,000 pounds — from 2011 figures, according to the program’s organizers.

The Challenge for Sustainability includes more than 30 million square feet of commercial space and 80,000 employees. It has set a goal for commercial real estate and business in Boston to achieve a 2 percent annual GHG reduction.

Since the program’s inception in 2009, participants have reduced their combined electricity consumption 7 percent in three years, from 400 GWh annually to 372 GWh.

In 2012 alone, participants saved $5.7 million in electricity costs, 178 tons of waste, 22 million pounds of steam and 1.2 million cubic feet of water. Due to the drop in natural gas prices, gas consumption increased 6.73 percent.

The Challenge for Sustainability is run by the nonprofit A Better City and includes member organizations such as the New England Aquarium, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and Citizens Bank. The program’s services also are available to small businesses in the City of Boston’s Main Streets program.

The challenge added 25 new participants for 2013, including the Dana-Farber Cancer Center, Hancock Tower and Seaport World Trade Center, bringing the total number to 100.

In addition to sharing best practices via regular meetings and workshops, A Better City’s sustainability coordinators help participants develop sustainability action plans using an online scorecard system for benchmarking and tracking initiatives and resources. In 2012, participants adopted a total of 560 new practices. The top five adoptions for building owners were electric vehicle charging stations, energy audits, single stream recycling, water management plans and sleep features on computers.

The Challenge for Sustainability also maintains a free and publicly available online sustainability toolkit with information on topics from cleaning supplies and green purchasing, to renewable energy and water efficiency.

In late February, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino filed a Building Energy Reporting and Disclosure Ordinance with the Boston City Council, Energy Manager Today reports.

As a component of the city’s climate action plan to meet Mayor Menino’s greenhouse gas reduction goals, this ordinance would require all large- and medium sized-buildings to report their annual energy and water use to city officials.

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