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Boston Tops Energy Report Card

Friday, September 27, 2013

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Boston, MA, is America’s most energy-efficient city, in terms of its efforts to slash energy usage and costs, according to a new report ranking 34 of the country’s largest cities.

The report, 2013 City Energy Efficiency Scorecard, was released Sept. 17 by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy. The study is reportedly the first to rank cities purely on energy-efficiency efforts.

City Energy Efficiency Scorecard
American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy

Boston ranked No. 1 in the new listing, earning 76.75 points on a 100-point scale. The city was followed by Portland, OR, with 70 points; and New York City and San Francisco, each with 69.75 points.

The cities were evaluated on measures they are taking to reduce energy use in five key areas: buildings; transportation; energy and water utility efforts; local government operations; and community-wide initiatives.

Boston was the overall winner, earning a score of 76.75 on the 100-point report card.

At the Top and Bottom

Following Boston in the rankings were Portland, OR; New York City; and San Francisco. Seattle and Austin, TX, came in at No. 5 and 6, according to the ACEEE.

Chicago and Denver were also mentioned as cities that were engaging in notable energy reduction efforts.

Meanwhile, the city at the bottom of the rankings was Jacksonville, FL, followed by Detroit and Memphis, ACEEE reported.

The report includes recommendations and strategies for all cities to lower energy use.

Jacksonville FL montage
Excel 23 / Wikimedia Commons

Jacksonville, Florida's largest city, trailed the pack in the rankings by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy.

ACEEE also launched an interactive infographic to accompany the report that highlights each city’s best practices and scores.

Building Policies Ranking

In terms of building policies, Seattle ranked at the top, earning 22.5 of 29 possible points in the category.

New York City followed with a score of 22. Austin and Boston tied with 21.5 as Nos. 3 and 4. Washington, D.C., rounded out the top 5, with 21 points in the building category.

The winning cities’ efforts and practices include:

  • Supporting the adoption of stringent building energy codes;
  • Devoting noteworthy resources to building code compliance;
  • Establishing requirements and/or incentives for efficient buildings;
  • Setting policies to improve the availability of information on energy use in buildings; and
  • Supporting significant program and workforce infrastructure to provide residents access to comprehensive efficiency services.

Boston’s Initiatives

“We couldn’t be more proud of our progress in creating a greener, healthier city,” Boston’s Mayor Thomas M. Menino said in a statement.

“Boston is a world-class city, and we know that our economic prosperity is tied to its ‘greenovation,’ which has helped create jobs and improve our bottom line. Reducing our energy use is just one smart step in improving the quality of life in Boston and around the world.”

Boston is one of the nine U.S. cities that have passed benchmarking ordinances. The laws require all large and medium-sized buildings to rate and report their energy use to improve energy management. Boston's 2013 Building Energy Reporting and Disclosure Ordinance was approved May 8.

Moreover, the city has partnered with community groups and utility companies to bring energy savings to residents and small business owners through a program called “Renew Boston.”

Other energy-saving policies and initiatives also helped the city reach the top of the energy-efficiency ladder.

Boston Skyline
Willem van Bergen / Flickr

Boston is one of nine U.S. cities that have enacted an energy benchmarking ordinance.

While it achieved the highest score, Boston missed nearly a quarter of possible points on the evaluation—demonstrating, ACEEE said, that even the top tier cities have room to improve.

Only 11 cities scored more than half of the possible points, the organization said.

Cities as Labs

“Our report shows that cities are laboratories of innovation for energy-saving solutions that directly benefit people where they live, work and play,” said Eric Mackres, ACEEE’s local policy manager and the report’s lead author.

“Local governments have great influence over energy use in their communities, and many have initiatives that result in significant energy and cost savings.”

The report lists several recommendations for cities to improve their energy footprint:

  • Lead by example by improving efficiency in local government operations and facilities.
  • Adopt energy savings goals.
  • Actively manage energy use, track and communicate progress toward goals, and enable access to data on energy usage.
  • Adopt policies to improve efficiency in new and existing buildings.
  • Partner with energy and water utilities to promote and expand energy efficiency programs.
  • Adopt policies and programs to lower transportation energy use through location-efficient development and improved access to additional travel mode choices.

Founded in 1980, the ACEEE is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization, on a mission to advance energy-efficiency policies, programs, technologies, investments, and behaviors.

   

Tagged categories: Architects; Building codes; Building design; Building owners; Commercial Buildings; Contractors; Energy codes; Energy efficiency; Government

Comment from Russell Higgins, (9/27/2013, 11:17 AM)

Show me the money - in this case, show me your carbon use, not your promises. In which case Boston isn't the worst, but it sure isn't the best, over NY, LA, above the avg. of all cities even. Boston is spread out, auto dependent, and de-centralized, meaning, no common gov't to create coherent and effective city wide policy, and no efficency of scale, which seems to be a big part of mega - metro areas low carbon ratings. Don't get me wrong, GREAT that Boston is trying harder. Though, if INTENTIONS are really what matters, then if Dalla / Houston issued a press release saying they were going to build the best mass transit system in the world, and mandate (but of course not enforce - no one enforces energy use) min. AC setting of 85 degress, then those cities, amongst the worst in total per capita carbon production, would automatically rise to the top of this "green cities" list. In this world of spin, you can't take stats at face value.


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