Ryan Pollin, June 3, 2015. Image credit: Hans
ACEEE’s 2015 Energy Efficient Cities report is out, and once again, Boston tops the list. While we at Zondits are happy to root for our home team, we’d like it even more if every city scored at least the B- that Boston achieved. Only 14 of the 51 cities analyzed got even half of 100 available points, and a measly five cities managed a passing grade of 70! Clearly, there is work to be done, and there are some obvious lessons that we ought to learn. Here are some of the major recommendations:
1. Rule your own roost. If you can’t readily adopt stricter construction codes, audit and retrofit programs, or aggressive procurement policies across your whole city, at least do it in your public buildings. Efficiency is in the public interest and it’s not a hard sell to any side of the political spectrum, especially when the energy bill is paid with public money.
2. Keep track of the numbers. ACEEE opens up the report with a big complaint that “energy use data are inconsistent, sporadic, and infrequent.” Reporting and tracking aren’t just helpful for the annual benchmark; it’s the power social benchmarking that further stirs progress towards our efficiency objectives. How do you know if your target timelines stink without understanding where you are? How can individuals and businesses be stirred to action without knowledge of their shortcomings?
3. Partner up with stakeholders. Utilities have a bit of a stake in energy efficiency, so work with them! Both parties win when city officials can co-market effective efficiency programs and their energy statistics are transparent and accessible to everyone. Public-private partnerships expand your reach and resources to accomplish shared energy and water conservation goals.
4. Set bicycles, pedestrians, and public transit free. Appropriate land-use planning and location-efficient zoning can work wonders to reduce car dependency and unlock healthier and cleaner modes of transportation. Recognize and offer alternatives to car-dependent neighborhoods to increase safety, health, and emissions. Transportation demand management techniques like ride-share, bike-share, paid parking, flex-time scheduling, and many others all help coax people into moving in a more efficient way.
Boston, NYC, Washington, DC, San Francisco, and Seattle Rank as America’s Most Energy-Efficient US Cities
ACEEE Press Release, May 20, 2015
Biennial Energy Efficiency Scorecard Ranks 51 Large US Cities; Balance of Top 10 US Cities: Chicago, Minneapolis, Portland, Austin, and Denver; Los Angeles One of the Most Improved Cities
Mayors and local lawmakers in America’s largest cities continue to take innovative steps to lower energy costs for consumers and businesses, increase their resilience, and reduce pollution through increased energy efficiency, according to the 2nd edition of the City Energy Efficiency Scorecard, released today by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).
Available online at http://aceee.org/local-policy/city-scorecard, the ACEEE report finds that Boston continues to be the most energy-efficient city in the nation, receiving 82 out of a possible 100 points, an improvement of more than five points from that city’s 2013 score. Trailing Boston, the top 10 US cities for energy efficiency are: New York City (#2), Washington, DC (#3), San Francisco (#4), Seattle (#5), Chicago (#6), Minneapolis (#7), Portland (#8), Austin (#9), and Denver (#10). With 9 of the top 10 cities improving their scores from 2013, Boston faced increased competition for the top spot.
Key findings in the 2015 City Energy Efficiency Scorecard include the following:
· Washington, Los Angeles, Chicago, Minneapolis, and Seattle are the most improved cities compared to the 2013 City Scorecard, with many showing double-digit improvements in their scores. Los Angeles, for example, established a strong energy savings goal, and Chicago enacted a new commercial building benchmarking ordinance.
· Other cities have also improved their scores since the last edition, including several in the Southeast United States. Atlanta, the leading city in the Southeast, saw an improvement of 5 points, earning new points for local government operations, buildings policies, energy and water utilities, and transportation policies. Charlotte made a strong showing as well, improving by nearly 8 points. Jacksonville, the lowest scoring city in the 2013 edition, saw a 50 percent increase in its score.
· All of the ranked cities, even the highest scorers, have significant room for improvement. Boston was the only city to earn over 80 points, and only 13 cities earned more than half of the possible points.