Boston retained its first-place ranking for energy efficiency, according to the ACEEE’s 2019 City Clean Energy Scorecard, the most comprehensive national report that tracks city progress toward climate goals.
BOSTON – Thursday, July 25, 2019 – Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced Boston has been ranked the top U.S. city for energy efficiency, according to the 2019 City Clean Energy Scorecard, shared today by the nonprofit American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. Boston earned the highest score amongst cities for its building policies and a perfect score for its energy efficiency outreach and programs. No other city except Boston has ever held the top spot in the ACEEE city scorecard.
“I’m proud of Boston for leading the rankings once again and am inspired by other cities for their bold action,” said Mayor Walsh. “Through our work here in Boston, we’ve already surpassed our municipal climate goals and reduced emissions by 37 percent. 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.”
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’s scoring recognized its efforts to increase renewable energy in the grid mix through programs such as its municipal energy initiative and its progress with community choice energy.
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 centers, and police and fire stations. These projects range from lighting upgrades, water conservation measures, and solar panel installations.
The City 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 currently seeking approval from the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities to proceed with its program. 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 programs.
Boston was also recognized for its long-standing work on energy benchmarking. The Building Energy Reporting and Disclosure Ordinance (BERDO) reached 90 percent compliance in 2018, the most recent reporting year. 2019 now marks the first year of Energy Action and Assessment, which asks that large buildings demonstrate that they have taken steps to assess energy saving opportunities or reduce their energy use. City staff have supported building owners and operators with resources and technical assistance to help continuously improve the performance of Boston’s buildings over time.
“Cities are making impressive clean energy gains-taking big steps to waste less energy and encourage more renewable power. But they have more to do,” said ACEEE senior research manager David Ribeiro, the lead report author. “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.”
According to ACEEE, the scorecard is the most comprehensive national report that tracks city progress toward climate goals. Boston is committed to being carbon neutral by 2050. Boston measures its progress through an annual community-wide greenhouse gas emissions inventory. In 2017, the Boston community emitted 6.1 million metric tons of greenhouse gases, which represents a 21 percent decrease for 2005 emissions.
The City of Boston is currently updating its Climate Action Plan, which will lay out strategies for achieving its carbon neutral goal. As a leading city on climate action, the City was named a winner of the Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge and received a support package, valued at up to $2.5 million, to increase low-carbon mobility choices and improve energy performance of Boston’s building sector.