Climate Zoning

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Climate Zoning

A Zero to 101 Initiative

Climate Zoning

As cities and towns plan for and implement climate-smart strategies and measures to advance toward net zero, local levers – such as zoning – can play a large role. MAPC seeks to support municipalities in driving positive change in the efficiency and performance of the building sector through engagement on national building code; statewide building code, including the base building energy code and the stretch energy code; and local zoning.

Climate zoning is an exciting potential tool that can help accelerate local commitments and decarbonize the building sector. Buildings – when accounting for all energy services – account for nearly 50% of the state’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions footprint, potentially upwards of 70% in an urban municipality. Strategies could include provisions to meet climate-smart performance standards; provide allowances to enable more robust building envelopes and clean heating and cooling systems; optimize rooftop square footage to reduce heat loads, absorb storm water, or generate solar heating or electricity; and much more.

As an integral component of MAPC’s municipal net zero playbook (currently under development), our climate zoning work will be added to this webpage as resources are developed. From case studies and templates to additional support for communities as they explore the use of zoning to require or encourage ultra low- and zero-carbon buildings.

Check back on this page as we continue to add new materials on this subject!

Adopting Climate Zoning

On June 25, 2019, MAPC hosted a webinar on Climate Zoning. The webinar covered net zero planning and the tool that climate zoning poses and research based on work MAPC performed for the City of Somerville (funded by the MA Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and the Barr Foundation). Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships (NEEP) also presented on the webinar, featuring a report, linked below, that includes case studies on green zoning.


Case Study

Somerville's Zoning Overhaul

The City of Somerville is in the process of a zoning overhaul that would result in a new form-based zoning ordinance. Draft language for the new ordinance includes a Green Factor requirement and other measures characteristic of Climate Zoning.

Learn more.


Sample Climate Zoning Language for Somerville Developed by MAPC | June 2019

Somerville Climate Zoning Recommendations Developed by MAPC | June 2019

Green Zoning: Using Local Zoning to Achieve Community Energy Efficiency and Resiliency Developed by Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships (NEEP) | November 2019