As 2021 gets underway, Greater Boston remains at a crossroads, with local communities still grappling with an economic recovery as well as the continued fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. Both the regional construction industry, as well as the state legislature, are approaching 2021 with a deeper understanding of how last year’s tumult has shifted the ground, and perhaps even accelerated energy and development trends in the state.
For instance, on Beacon Hill, Governor Charlie Baker recently filed his Fiscal Year 2022 budget, which recommends $45.6 billion in spending. The Governor has noted that his proposal seeks to transition away from one-time revenue and expenditures that were needed to combat the pandemic. The budget recommendation also authorizes a withdrawal of up to $1.6 billion from the rainy-day fund to ensure the continuation of essential government services. In addition, to address ongoing concerns around the state’s vaccine response, House Speaker Ronald Mariano and Senate President Karen Spilka have announced a trio of new standing committees focused on COVID-19 oversight and emergency management, racial equity, and cybersecurity.
Baker has also vetoed an ambitious climate bill over his concerns that key pieces of the bill could stymie housing construction, citing a provision calling for the creation of a net-zero stretch code, a building code towns and cities could choose to adopt that would require new buildings to produce as much energy as they consume. For context, with buildings responsible for almost 30% of the state’s emissions, Massachusetts has an ambitious goal of going carbon-neutral over the next thirty years. While the state sets the building codes for municipalities, it also offers an additional, optional stretch code, which requires enhanced levels of energy efficiency than the base code. Today, 286 municipalities — more than 80% of Massachusetts towns and cities— adhere to this standard.
However, many in the construction field have expressed concern that this measure would reduce housing development and raise construction costs. To be sure, it is imperative to construct net-zero buildings in the most cost-effective way. Equally important, our industry must continue to support innovation and promote the development of sustainable materials, tools, and technologies.
We recently shared our thoughts on the kind of innovation that will impact Greater Boston’s construction outlook for 2020. Take a look here for our perspective on where we see the industry going and how companies can adjust to COVID-19 related workplace conditions.
At JM Electrical, we are responding to the ‘new normal’ in a few distinct ways. Last fall, we announced the launch of a new recurring service initiative, which focuses on electrical preventative maintenance programs and timely customer support. By providing this targeted service offering, we will ensure optimal operating performance for clients, their facilities, and tenants throughout New England at a pivotal time when energy efficiency and building management remain top priorities.