The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) has released the 2013 City Energy Efficiency Scorecard, a report that ranks 34 of the most populous U.S. cities on policies to advance energy efficiency. The report includes recommendations and strategies for all cities to lower energy use. ACEEE also launched a new interactive infographic accompanying the report that highlights each city’s best practices and scores.
Boston took top honors, doing the most to save energy. Other top-scoring cities include Portland, Ore.; New York; San Francisco; Seattle; and Austin. The next tier of top-scoring cities (Washington, D.C.; Minneapolis; Chicago; Philadelphia; and Denver) have also developed efficiency initiatives and are poised to rise in the rankings in future years.
“We couldn’t be more proud of our progress in creating a greener, healthier city,” says Mayor Thomas M. Menino. “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.”
“The good news is that cities across the country are saving money, creating local jobs, and protecting the environment by implementing energy efficiency measures,” says Steven Nadel, ACEEE’s executive director.
“Our report shows that cities are laboratories of innovation for energy-saving solutions that directly benefit people where they live, work and play,” says 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 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.
Key findings from the report include the following:
- Local leadership and commitment to energy efficiency is strong. With great influence over energy use in their communities, city leaders can implement initiatives that provide benefits where they are most tangible to citizens and businesses, directly improving the community.
- 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.
- All cities, even the highest scorers, have significant room for improvement. Boston, the highest scoring city, 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, and several recommendations are offered in the report.
Key recommendations for 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, as well as 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.