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Government Relations

We provide a powerful platform for collective action to tackle the challenges of today, and tomorrow. We connect with government, business, nonprofits, community leaders and a range of organizations, at the city, state, regional level and beyond. We keep our members informed, and we engage to develop shared positions and advocate for innovative solutions for our most pressing societal issues.   

City Issues:


BEUDO

Background: BEUDO stands for the Building Energy Use Disclosure Ordinance and it applies to buildings over 25,000 square feet in Cambridge. It requires property owners to keep track of and publicly report their buildings’ annual energy use, as the release of harmful greenhouse gas (GhG) emissions into the environment is a concern. BEUDO is an ordinance that property owners helped to implement in 2014 as a first step in addressing the role of buildings in climate action.

As of February 2022, the City of Cambridge is considering additional amendments to BEUDO that will, among other things, accelerate the city’s net zero goal from 2050 to 2035 and may include substantial penalties for non-compliance. 

KSA continues to be  engaged with the City Council, City staff, and business community stakeholders to ensure that BEUDO is implemented responsibly with an appreciation of the scientific, technical, economic, and practical implications for our members. KSA is committed to combating climate change and advocacy on our members’ behalf. 

Article 22/Building Emissions Accounting Amendment

Background: Cambridge proposed this amendment in early 2022. It would require applicants for most Green Building Projects to provide, as part of their compliance with Cambridge’s net zero goals, an accounting for greenhouse gas emissions generated by construction, the expected annual emissions generated by routine building operations, lifetime expected emissions until the year 2050, and total expected emissions. This requirement would not apply to any residential buildings that include affordable units. Since then, Cambridge City Councillors have discussed the third, and most recent, iteration of this amendment in City Council Hearings. KSA is keeping a close watch on Article 22.  KSA is committed to sustainability, and is prepared to advocate on our members’ behalf. 

Lab Ban

Background: In 2022, three different processes were initiated seeking implementation of a “lab ban” in certain business and commercial sections of the City, including Central Square, East Cambridge, Harvard Square, Inman Square, and beyond.  None of these efforts seeks to ban labs in Kendall Square. While these efforts do not ban labs in Kendall Square, they do seek to ban labs in spaces adjacent to and near Kendall Square.

The first effort began with Policy Order 2022 #161 submitted by two City Councillors.  On December 7, 2022 the City’s Neighborhood & Long-term Planning, Public Facilities, Arts & Celebration Committee and the City’s Economic Development and University Relations Committee (the “Joint Committee”) held a hearing on the Policy Order.  City staff presented finance and zoning data. The KSA, East Cambridge and Central Square Business Associations, and MIT, opposed the ban and presented testimony which can be viewed here. Several individuals from small and mid-sized labs shared compelling testimony about the value of being in Cambridge and the discoveries and impact they are making. 

The second effort began with a Citizens’ Petition (Callender 2022) submitted to the Planning Board. On December 20, the Planning Board heard from the petitioners and the opposition, including the KSA, and voted to recommend against the Petition.

The third effort began with a similar Citizens’ Petition (Callender 2022 #53), edited to exempt existing labs and existing lab buildings in the proposed restricted areas, and submitted to Ordinance. On January 4, the Ordinance Committee heard from the petitioners and the opposition, including the KSA, and voted to refer the Petition to the Joint Committee for further consideration on February 7.

Summary of Positions:  Petitioners have defined “Labs” broadly in the petition as “any laboratory engaged in research, experimental and testing, including but not limited to the fields of biology, chemistry, electronics, engineering, geology, medicine, and physics, including activities that requires additional air exchanges over and above a regular office use, or requires the use of chemical hoods, biosafety cabinets, regulated chemicals, or dangerous substances.” The definition does not include innovation spaces or maker spaces, though those terms are not defined. Petitioners seek to restrict lab development in the proposed designated areas for several reasons, principally because they believe that intensive biotech/pharma development “outcompetes” housing. 

Opponents to the lab ban, including the KSA, MIT, the East Cambridge and Harvard Square Business Associations, and the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce have opposed the petition on numerous grounds, including the following.

  • Innovation and housing are not mutually exclusive.  In fact, the innovation economy fuels the Cambridge economy, and linkage fees–which just went up 66%–fund affordable housing
  • The vast majority of the land in Cambridge is zoned residential, and Cambridge is one of the Massachusetts communities with the highest percentage of affordable housing in Massachusetts.
  • The City’s zoning regulations already address any nuisance issues labs may present.  Labs, restaurants, and all businesses in Cambridge are governed by regulations such as the placement of mechanicals.  Singling out labs is inappropriate and short-sighted.  
  • The small, independently owned labs that exist today in the proposed restricted areas are the kind of small businesses that contribute to the city’s vibrancy, prosperity, and legacy as home to the world’s most forward-thinking innovators. 
  • The lab ban threatens the viability of smaller labs and over time would force them out of Cambridge to other emerging innovation hubs in Massachusetts, or worse, around the globe. 
  • Labs do not blight commercial centers, in fact centers thrive when there is a consistent workforce and resident population to patronize local restaurants and shops. Lab employees contribute to a stable local economy by supporting restaurants and retail before, during, and after their work days ensuring an overall vibrant economy in Cambridge. 
  • Despite the immense impact this petition would have on how people live, work and play in Cambridge, the language of the amendment is vague and unclear, including in how labs are defined.

Specialized Stretch Energy Code

BACKGROUND: The City Council adopted the Specialized Stretch Code on Monday, January 23, 2023 at its weekly city council meeting. The Specialized Stretch Energy Code adds to the updated Stretch Energy Code by requiring new buildings that use fossil fuels to be pre-wired for full electrification and to install solar panels where possible. The code will have an effective date of July 1, 2023. 

For more information about the Specialized Stretch Code, visit the Massachusetts state webpage on the Stretch Energy Code.

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