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Boston Energy: America’s Cleanest


Boston leads the way again! Boston received top ranking on the 2017 City Energy Efficiency Scorecard earning 84.5 points out of a maximum of 100. The city had topped the rankings in 2015 as well on the ACEEE (American Council for Energy Efficient Economy) Scorecard.  Boston has maintained its continuous commitment with its green initiatives earning it the third spot from Mother Nature Network in 2014.  The city was also named as the seventh in the list of cities offering the most number of green jobs by Forbes.

The ACEEE is a not for profit organization that conducts research and reports every two years on what plans are initiated by cities across the US. to conserve energy. The ratings are on different topics including transport, local governance, buildings, utility and community initiatives.


Action Plan On Energy

With a climate action plan that is updated and reviewed every three years, Boston is well on its way to achieve its goals of cutting down on greenhouse gas emissions. Boston’s Climate Plan aims to achieve a 25% reduction in emissions by 2020 with an 80% reduction target set for 2050.

Conservation of energy and optimizing use of renewable energy sources including wind and solar energies are the top priorities given the concerns of climate change. While efforts on energy saving with smart use of renewable sources are made locally, these initiatives have far reaching national and global implications.

Boston has retained its top position as the most energy efficient city thanks to the shared enthusiasm and commitment among its leaders and the residents. One of the highlights of Boston’s commitment to energy efficiency includes the disclosure ordinance where all buildings are required to report their annual energy and water consumption data. Other salient features include rewards and rebates for green initiatives taken by residents and businesses besides comprehensive transport and utility programs.

Reasons Why Boston Is America’s Cleanest City

Here are the reasons why Boston is the cleanest ever!

Green governance:  The city earned 8.5 points out of 10 for the green initiatives taken on government operations within the city. Municipal buildings to be constructed require a mandatory LEED Silver Certificate.  Renovated buildings need to exceed LEED energy requirements by 7%. The city’s green initiatives also mandate LEED Silver Certificate standards for all public housing projects funded by the government under Green Affordable Housing Program.

Public lighting is another major area of focus in Boston with the goal to replace street-lights with LEDs in the near future.  In 2014 the city had already replaced 76% of electric lights on streets with LEDs which led to a saving of 35.6 million kWh in that year alone.

The FleetHub is another feather in Boston’s cap that goes a long way in reducing fleet size of the city with motor pooling for government employees. The climate action plan also requires local government to purchase energy efficient vehicles that use alternate fuels. Last but not the least, Boston benchmarks the energy use in all of the municipal buildings in the city.

Green community:  Boston scored nine of twelve on the ACEEE Scorecard for its green initiatives for the community. The major focus is “The Greenovate Boston” action plan which has instituted reward system for green initiatives taken by residents and local businesses. Following the series of steps taken over a period of seven years, the city reduced the greenhouse gas emissions by 14% by 2014. The goal of 25% reduction by 2020 looks definitely within reach, given Boston’s commitment to clean energy. The tree program includes planting 100,000 trees by the year 2020 and to achieve a 35% increase in canopy cover for the city to reduce the “urban heat island” effect by 2030.

Green buildings:  With the adoption of Massachusetts Stretch Energy code, Boston’s commercial and residential buildings must exceed the base code by a minimum of 20%.  The green plans also call for new commercial and residential buildings that exceed 50,000 square feet to obtain LEED certifications. It is also mandatory for buildings that do not meet the certification standards of Energy Star to conduct energy audits every five years. Boston’s E+ Green Building Program enables homeowners to sell excess green energy to the grid. Reporting of energy and water consumption data annually through Portfolio Manager has also been made mandatory for residential and commercial buildings with an area above 35000 square feet. These data is analyzed and reported on a website every year. The green buildings policies of Boston earned it 26 out of a maximum score of 28 on the ACEEE Scorecard ratings for 2017.

Water and Energy: Boston earned a perfect score of twenty out of twenty on ACEEE Scorecard for its smart water and energy conservation efforts.  Technologies that conserve water earn incentives and rebates while residents can also avail a zero cost water efficiency kit. The kit includes dye tablets that are used to check for leaks in toilets, gauge to assess leaks in shower-heads and taps and faucet aerators, besides a low-flow shower-head. The stormwater management policy also encourages builders to plan for maximum ground water recharging before discharging the water. Projects must demonstrate the ability to recharge the first inch of rainwater.

The electricity utility provider for Boston, Eversource, saved 730,731 MW of electricity in 2015 after initiating a series of energy efficient action plans.  The perfect score Boston earned in this category is also due to other initiatives that include energy efficient programs for low income and multifamily units as well as the Renew Boston program. Under the Renew Boston program that includes a no cost assessment, a 75% rebate on insulation improvements and free air sealing are provided for participants.

Smart transport:  Reducing carbon emissions through car sharing, strengthening of public transport, fleets for government employees and parking freezes are some smart transport initiatives in Boston. The Hubway operates more than 160 bike stations for the bike-sharing initiative that goes a long way in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The GoBoston plan for 2030 aims to reduce miles traveled by vehicles by 5.5% along with the 25% reduction in emission by 2020.

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