William & Mary Environmental Law and Policy Review


Recent developments in Congress and the Supreme Court have highlighted the folly of relying solely on the federal government to contain global climate change. If the United States is to help rein in the climate crisis, state and local governments will need to accelerate their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In many urban areas, where most Americans now live, the most important step that local governments can take to curtail these emissions is to reduce energy use in buildings. Recognizing this, a number of American cities have adopted building performance standards (“BPSs”) in recent years, which limit the annual amount of energy a building can use or emissions it can release. With an eye toward encouraging the proliferation of BPSs, this Article surveys the key decisions that a city must make in designing a BPS and argues that future laws must do more to integrate resilience goals. As the climate crisis accelerates, local lawmakers must develop policies that simultaneously reduce emissions and protect their constituencies from the climate impacts that we can no longer fend off.