Cities boost efforts to reduce energy waste

As the federal government weighs budget cuts to energy efficiency programs, cities are stepping up efforts to reduce energy waste. More mayors and local lawmakers in America's largest cities are turning to energy efficiency to reduce energy costs for consumers and businesses, strengthen the resilience of their communities, and reduce pollution, according to the third edition of the City Energy Efficiency Scorecard, released by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).

The ACEEE report finds that Boston remains the top US city for energy efficiency, receiving 84.5 out of a possible 100 points, an improvement of 2.5 from its 2015 score, according to a press release. Following Boston, the top 10 U.S. cities for energy efficiency are New York City (#2), Seattle (#3), Los Angeles (tied for #4), Portland (tied for #4), Austin (#6), Chicago (#7), Washington, DC (#8), Denver (tied for #9), and San Francisco (tied for #9).  

Based on a 25-point jump from the last edition of the Scorecard in 2015, Los Angeles was the most-improved city. It entered the top five—and the top 10—for the first time. San Diego, Kansas City, and Phoenix are the second, third and fourth most-improved cities, respectively. Seven other cities, including Orlando, showed double-digit improvements since the last Scorecard

The five cities most in need of improvement on energy efficiency are Hartford (#47), Memphis (#48), Detroit (#49), Oklahoma City (#50), and Birmingham (#51). 

Additional findings in the 2017 City Energy Efficiency Scorecard include the following:

  • Phoenix is the fourth most-improved city, with a gain of 13 points.    
  • Orlando is another of 11 cities that improved by at least 10 points.  Austin, Philadelphia, Denver, Pittsburgh, Raleigh, Portland, and the four most-improved cities mentioned above round out this group. 
  • Los Angeles is home to a new existing building energy and water efficiency program, which requires an energy audit, retrofit, and benchmarking for many commercial and multifamily building. 
  • San Diego passed a Climate Action Plan that established goals to reduce energy use by 15 percent in select homes and to reduce community-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent by 2020.

"Across the nation, cities are taking steps to save energy and they are creating more economically vibrant and resilient communities in the process," said ACEEE senior researcher David Ribeiro, the lead report author. "More than half, 32, of the 51 cities improved their scores from 2015 to 2017, with several making substantial point increases. More cities are requiring building owners to benchmark and report buildings' energy use, updating building energy codes, and setting community-wide goals to save energy and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. We also see a new set of cities emerging as leaders for energy efficiency, knocking on the door of the top 10."

In the five key areas covered by the report, the key findings are:

  • Local Government Operations. Leaders in efficiency in local government operations are Denver, New York City, Philadelphia, Portland and Washington, D.C.   
  • Community-Wide Initiatives. The top-scoring cities in community-wide initiatives are Austin, Minneapolis, Portland, and Washington, D.C.    
  • Building Policies. Leading cities in building policies include Boston, Austin, Los Angeles and New York City.   
  • Energy and Water Utilities. The cities with leading energy utilities are Boston and Providence. Austin, Boston, Columbus, Denver, Los Angeles, New York City and San Diego are the leading cities in tackling efficiency in their water systems and water uses.   
  • Transportation Policies. Cities with the top scores for transportation policies include Portland and New York City.  


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