Boston Named Top U.S. City for Energy Efficiency

05/16/2017 |

This ACEEE report ranks 51 large U.S. cities on what they are doing to save energy in five key areas

While the federal government at large is pending large, drastic cuts to energy efficiency programs, individual cities have shown strength locally and are in turn doing their part to reduce energy waste.

More city officials and lawmakers in the U.S.’s biggest cities are relying on energy efficient measures, both to reduce pollution and to contribute to their economies by easing the financial burden on consumers.

An ACEEE report back these sentiments, finding that Boston, Massachusetts remains the top U.S. city for energy efficiency, receiving 84.5 out of a possible 100 points, an improvement of 2.5 from its 2015 score.

Just behind Boston, the top 10 U.S. cities for energy efficiency are New York City (#2), Seattle (#3), Los Angeles (tied for #4), Portland (tied for #4), Austin (#6), Chicago (#7), Washington, DC (#8), Denver (tied for #9), and San Francisco (tied for #9).  

“Across the nation, cities are taking steps to save energy, and they are creating more economically vibrant and resilient communities in the process,” says ACEEE senior researcher David Ribeiro, the lead report author. “More than half, 32, of the 51 cities improved their scores from 2015 to 2017, with several making substantial point increases. More cities are requiring building owners to benchmark and report buildings' energy use, updating building energy codes, and setting community-wide goals to save energy and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.”

Los Angeles was scored as the most-improved city year to year, entering the top five for its first time ever. Contributing to its success, Los Angeles recently installed a Existing Building Energy and Water Efficiency program, which requires an energy audit, retrofit, and benchmarking for many commercial and multifamily buildings, as well as water efficiency measures.

The five cities most in need of improvement on energy efficiency are Hartford (#47), Memphis (#48), Detroit (#49), Oklahoma City (#50), and Birmingham (#51).

In the five key areas covered in the ACEEE report, the key findings are:

Local Government Operations

Leaders in efficiency in local government operations are Denver, New York City, Philadelphia, Portland, and Washington, DC. All have policies to increase efficiency in city government, procurement, and asset management.

Community-Wide Initiatives

The top-scoring cities in community-wide initiatives are Austin, Minneapolis, Portland, and Washington, DC. They have efficiency-related goals for the entire community and strategies to mitigate urban heat islands. They also have policies or programs to plan for future combined heat and power or district energy systems.

Building Policies

Leading cities in building policies include Boston, Austin, Los Angeles, and New York City. These cities have adopted or advocated for stringent building energy codes, devoted resources to building code compliance, established requirements and incentives for efficient buildings, and increased the availability of information on energy use in buildings.

Energy and Water Utilities

The cities with leading energy utilities are Boston and Providence. The energy efficiency programs of the utilities serving these cities offer high levels of savings and reach underserved markets, including low-income and multifamily households. Austin, Boston, Columbus, Denver, Los Angeles, New York City, and San Diego are the leading cities in tackling efficiency in their water systems and water uses. Utility customers in these cities have access to efficiency programs designed to save water and energy simultaneously.

Transportation Policies

Cities with the top scores for transportation policies include Portland and New York City. Their initiatives include strategies to make their cities more compact and closer to transit options, shifts to efficient modes of transportation, transit investments, efficient vehicles and vehicle infrastructure, and energy-efficient freight transport

To see the ACEEE scorecard in full, you can visit the webpage here. 


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