Energy Efficiency, GHG Emissions  -  July 30, 2019

Boston, San Francisco & Seattle lead clean energy efforts

U.S. cities are ramping up their clean energy efforts, notably with stricter energy-saving rules for buildings, but only a few cities appear on track to meet their community-wide climate goals. 

This assessment was made by the nonprofit American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) with the release of their 2019 City Clean Energy Scorecard. The Scorecard shows that cities took more than 265 initiatives to advance efficiency and renewable energy between January 2017 and April 2019, ranging from modest but practical efforts such as Philadelphia’s teleworking for public employees to cutting-edge policies such as Washington, DC’s new high-performance standards for existing buildings.

"Cities are making impressive clean energy gains—taking big steps to waste less energy and encourage more renewable power. But they have more to do,” said ACEEE senior research manager David Ribeiro, the lead report author. “Cities must continue their push for innovative buildings policies, take greater steps to tackle transportation emissions, and better track progress to know which investments have the greatest impact. With their innovation, ingenuity, and resolve, they can build prosperous and equitable low-carbon communities.” 

The Scorecard reveals that most cities with climate goals are either not on track to achieve them or are not yet tracking progress. One-third (27) of the 75 cities surveyed have yet to even set greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets. Of the 48 with targets, 21 are not yet fully tracking their progress. The remaining 27 have data, and of those, 8 are not projected to be close to achieving their targets and 8 are projected to make substantial progress but still fall short. Only 11 are on track to meet their GHG reductions goals. 

Overall, Boston retains its first-place ranking, followed by San Francisco, Seattle, MinneapolisWashington, DC, New York CityLos AngelesDenverAustin, and Portland​​Cincinnati, Hartford, and Providence were designated as "Cities to Watch" for adopting several major clean energy policies and programs.

Since 2017, nine cities—Las Vegas, Mesa, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Reno, San Antonio, St. Louis, and Tucson—adopted more-stringent building energy codes and five advocated for their states to do so. In addition, eight cities—Chicago, Denver, Minneapolis, New York, Reno, Salt Lake City, San José, and Washington, DC—adopted efficiency requirements for existing buildings. 

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