BETA Commercial: Building Decarbonization Planning Protocols

Julia Sucov, Commercial Building Decarbonization Fellow

The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) and a team of expert consultants led by Slipstream Group, Inc. are developing a set of decarbonization protocols under the MassCEC Building Electrification Transformation Accelerator (BETA): Commercial Buildings Pilot. The protocols will be based on the consultant team’s previous work and   technical expertise to successfully decarbonize existing commercial buildings in Massachusetts. According to Massachusetts’ Decarbonization Roadmap, on-site fossil fuel combustion within existing commercial buildings is responsible for about 27% of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions, which must be reduced to reach the state’s 2050 carbon neutral goals. 

Going beyond a standard facility energy use assessment, the BETA: Commercial pilot offers energy and carbon reduction analyses that will be used to develop and implement custom decarbonization plans. The draft   protocols, listed below, aim to support and inform the procedures used to evaluate energy and carbon reduction strategies with the end goal being a decarbonization roadmap for each of the pilot’s participating buildings. In addition, the analysis addresses critical site considerations necessary for successful implementation; indoor air quality, electrical infrastructure upgrades, renewable energy and energy storage opportunities, site resiliency strategies, and clean transportation are all relevant factors. 

The MassCEC BETA: Commercial Buildings Pilot Protocols will include: 

Step 1 – Pre-Walkthrough Data-Collection and Analysis 

The Pre-Walkthrough stage starts with collecting facility description information and existing energy use and building data. The pilot assessment team will provide energy and carbon benchmarking prior to the facility walkthrough (on-site visit), as well as an introductory overview of potential energy efficiency and decarbonization (greenhouse gas emissions reduction) opportunities. These will support goal development with the owner.

Step 2 – Walkthrough and On-Site Assessment 

The Walkthrough and On-Site Assessment  includes details on preparing for the facility assessment walkthrough, such as walkthrough process, scheduling, safety measures, building space access, on-site data intake forms, tools, etc., as well as the on-site assessment itself. These face-to-face meetings allow experts to understand existing building intricacies, owner goals, and capital planning considerations, leading to identification of key steps and implementation timelines necessary for successful decarbonization.

Step 3 – Analysis of Decarbonization Options 

The Decarbonization Analysis includes an energy analysis of a set of Energy Conservation Measures (ECMs), load reduction strategies, and options for electrification of heating and transportation. Also provided are a life cycle cost analysis, preliminary renewable energy assessment, and resiliency considerations. 

Step 4 – Interim Decarbonization Analysis Review with Building Owner

The Interim Decarbonization Analysis Review includes a meeting and preliminary review of the energy/carbon analysis with the building owner’s  team. This meeting reviews potential strategies for moving forward and offers the owner’s team a buy-in for the proposed solutions and further discussion of capital planning triggers and timeline considerations.

Step 5 – Completion of a Decarbonization Plan Report

The Decarbonization Plan Report includes the criteria, format, and components of a strategic plan to fully electrify all end uses in a given building, such as the executive summary, roadmap and implementation timeline, walkthrough assessment, detailed analysis report, as well as appendices with the analysis process and facility data.


The BETA: Commercial Buildings Pilot protocols and associated documentation will be intermittently revised as the pilot’s participant projects progress and as MassCEC and the consultant team build upon our experience with the first few participating buildings.

The BETA: Commercial Buildings Pilot team is planning to work with the Mass Save Program Administrators to optimize funding available from Mass Save Commercial Incentives programs, as applicable.

The MassCEC BETA: Commercial Buildings Pilot is currently accepting applications for participating buildings.  Please send any questions to:

Stay tuned for more information about the BETA: Commercial Buildings Pilot!