Boston Planning and Development Agency - Smart Utilities Policy

The Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) Smart Utilities Policy has been launched as a two-year pilot program for resilient infrastructure planning in the City of Boston, Massachusetts. The policy adopts five “Smart Utility Technologies” (SUTs) that prepare Boston’s utility infrastructure for the impacts of climate change such as heat waves and flooding. A Microgrid, or centralized energy system, will be developed that can disconnect from the main electric utility grid during power outages.  The policy also calls for green infrastructure to manage flooding and excess stormwater. 

The new policy incorporates the five technologies into the Smart Utilities for Article 80 Development Review and BPDA Development Review Guidelines. The five SUTs, or technologies as described in the policy include:

  1. District Energy Microgrid - For projects over 1.5 million square feet, a centralized energy system or on-site power plant must be developed that has the ability to produce electricity while using excess heat for energy to heat and cool buildings. The system can also be disconnected from the power grid during outages and continue providing electric, heating, and cooling needs.

    This resource was featured in the June 28, 2018, ASAP Newsletter.

    "Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) voted to establish a 2-year pilot program integrating five Smart Utility Technologies with climate resilience and adaptation goals across the city. The new policy will prepare utility infrastructure for the impacts of climate change, including increased flood risks, heat waves and stronger storms. Projects are organized in the areas of District Energy Microgrid, Green Infrastructure, Adaptive Signal Technology, Smart Street Lights, and a Telecom Utilidor."

  2. Green Infrastructure - Projects over 100,000 square feet will incorporate green stormwater infrastructure to prevent storm runoff and excessive stormwater flowing into the water and sewer system.
  3. Adaptive Signal Technology - Smart traffic signals and sensors that communicate with each other to make various types of travel (pedestrian, vehicle, bicycle) safer and more efficient.
  4. Smart Street Lights - Traditional light poles will be designed with additional electrical and fiber optics connections at the pole for future deployment of smart sensors, Wi-Fi, and/or cameras.
  5. Telecom Utilidor - An underground tube used to consolidate the wiring installed for cable, internet, and other telecom services, with ample space to add more wiring over time. (For projects over 1.5 million square feet or projects that cover over a half mile of roadway.)

The Smart Utilities for Article 80 Development Review is a result of a two-year initial Smart Utilities project. The City and BPDA developed strategies “for more equitable, sustainable, affordable, resilient, and innovative utility services in the City of Boston.”


Publication Date: June 14, 2018

Related Organizations:

  • City of Boston, Massachusetts
  • Boston Planning and Development Agency


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Agency guidance/policy

States Affected:


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