After a vigorous petition campaign by activists, Cambridge, Mass., agrees to explore ways to make the city net zero.
Going carbon neutral isn’t easy, but it is fairly straight-forward: It means sourcing power from renewable energy projects and filling out any gaps with the purchase of renewable energy certificates.
Net zero, by contrast, is about what’s happening at the building level. That puts the onus on developers, and puts a premium on tracking and reporting how buildings function. Here’s how Net Zero Cambridge described the proposal it wants the city to adopt:
Our proposal restricts the use of fossil-fuel based energy in new developments (greater than 25,000 sq. ft.) by requiring greenhouse gas mitigation plans and periodic reporting of energy usage. To reach the net zero standard, developers may take advantage of design efficiencies, on-site generation of power, and off-site purchases of renewable energy over the grid. All of these steps have been shown to be feasible and economically viable right here in Cambridge.