Boston continues to be top city for energy efficiency in USA

Boston has been ranked the leading US city for energy efficiency by the non-profit American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).

Boston was awarded the highest score in ACEEE’s 2019 City Clean Energy Scorecard among cities for its building policies. It also earned a perfect score for its energy efficiency outreach and programmes.

No other city except Boston has ever held the top spot in the ACEEE city scorecard. It retains its first-place ranking, earning 77.5 out of a possible 100 points.

The city scorecard tracks policy efforts to advance energy efficiency and, for the first time, renewable energy because both are needed to build a clean energy future and address climate change, according to ACEEE.

Boston was followed in the ranking by San Francisco, Seattle, Minneapolis, Washington, DC, New York City, Los Angeles, Denver, Austin, and Portland.

The scorecard found that US cities are ramping up their clean energy efforts, notably with stricter energy-saving rules for buildings, but only a few cities appear on track to meet their community-wide climate goals.

Cities took more than 265 initiatives to advance efficiency and renewable energy between January 2017 and April 2019, ranging from modest but practical efforts such as Philadelphia’s teleworking for public employees to cutting-edge policies such as Washington, DC’s new high-performance standards for existing buildings.

Yet the scorecard also reveals that most cities with climate goals are either not on track to achieve them or are not yet tracking progress. One-third (26) of the 75 cities surveyed have yet to even set greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets.

Of the 49 with targets, 22 are not yet fully tracking their progress. The remaining 27 have data, and of those, eight are not projected to be close to achieving their targets and eight are projected to make substantial progress but still fall short. Only 11 are on track to meet their GHG reductions goals.

ACEEE senior research manager David Ribeiro, the lead report author, believes that although cities are making impressive clean energy gains, taking big steps to waste less energy and encourage more renewable power, they “have more to do.”

“Cities must continue their push for innovative buildings policies, take greater steps to tackle transportation emissions, and better track progress to know which investments have the greatest impact. With their innovation, ingenuity, and resolve, they can build prosperous and equitable low-carbon communities,” he said.

Boston’s scoring recognised its efforts to increase renewable energy in the grid mix through programmes such as its municipal energy initiative and its progress with community choice energy.

“I’m proud of Boston for leading the rankings once again and am inspired by other cities for their bold action,” said Martin Walsh, mayor of Boston.

“Through our work here in Boston, we’ve already surpassed our municipal climate goals and reduced emissions by 37 per cent. If we’re to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, we have to accelerate our actions and lead by example – and that’s what we’ll keep doing here in Boston.”

Boston’s municipal energy initiative, known as Renew Boston Trust, identifies energy-saving projects in city-owned buildings. The projects are self-funded through guaranteed energy and cost savings, meaning that they pay for themselves over time.

Projects are already underway at 14 municipal buildings across Boston, including libraries, community centres, and police and fire stations. These projects range from lighting upgrades, water conservation measures, and solar panel installations.

The city said it is also moving ahead with municipal aggregation, also known as community choice energy. The aggregation will give Boston electricity customers more control over the kind of energy they use in their homes, and the price of that energy.

The city is also seeking approval from the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities to proceed with its programme. In addition to bringing cleaner energy to Boston homes and businesses, the city continues its partnership with utilities to reduce the amount of energy used in Boston through statewide energy efficiency programmes.

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