In a report on how US cities fared in saving energy, Boston topped the list, followed by Portland, with New York and San Francisco close behind and tied for third place. Seattle and Austin were in the 5th and 6th places.
The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) this week released the 2013 City Energy Efficiency Scorecard, a report that ranks 34 of the most populous US cities on policies to advance energy efficiency. The report includes recommendations and strategies for all cities to lower energy use.
The ACEEE says that the next tier of cities — Washington, DC, Minneapolis, Chicago, Philadelphia and Denver — have also developed efficiency initiatives and are poised to rise in the rankings in future years.
What stood out among the top cities were a strong local leadership and commitment to energy efficiency. However, the ACEEE says all cities, even the highest scorers, have significant room for improvement. For instance, Boston, missed nearly a quarter of possible points. Only 11 cities scored more than half of the possible points. All cities can improve their efficiency initiatives to increase their scores. Boston achieved the highest score overall, but other cities led in some policy areas. Portland scored highest in transportation and local government operations. Seattle ranked first in building policies. San Francisco tied with Boston for first in utility public benefits programs, and Austin is the city furthest ahead of its state on energy efficiency policy.
Among the most important recommendations ACEEE offered for all cities:
- 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.
The report is the first to rank cities exclusively on energy efficiency efforts. Cities are evaluated on what actions 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.
Part of the reason some cities get high scores are the initiatives they have launched, like energy benchmarking. In May, Boston launched energy benchmarking to drive efficiency, passing an ordinance that affects 1,600 buildings in Boston, and requires all commercial buildings over 35,000 square feet and all residential buildings with more than 35 units to annually report whole-building energy and water use. The ordinance follows the lead of other major cities that have enacted similar energy reporting and disclosure regulations, including New York City, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Seattle, Austin, Minneapolis and Philadelphia.