Top American Cities Receive Scorecard on Energy Efficiency

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The 51 largest cities in the U.S. received a scorecard last week from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, with Boston claiming the top spot for the second year in a row.

“Our findings show that cities continue to be laboratories of innovation when it comes to energy efficiency, with many pushing the envelope for more energy savings in the last few years,” said lead author David Ribeiro in a May 20 news release. “Cities are also improving their approaches when it comes to tracking and communicating their efforts to save energy. By capturing these efforts in the [City Energy Efficiency] Scorecard we hope local leaders from cities of all sizes can learn best practices from each other and deliver the benefits of energy efficiency to their communities, such as a stronger economy and a cleaner environment.”

Energy efficiency refers to doing the same amount of work with less energy — essentially, improving energy usage without sacrificing any function or convenience. With efficiency in mind, Boston has implemented a number of city-wide energy policies as well as focused on energy and water usage in large and medium-sized buildings.

The city has also made efforts to engage residents on a personal level and get them invested in conservation and efficiency efforts. Many of the choices made in the home, particularly when it comes to appliances, can have a large collective effect on overall efficiency; heating and cooling equipment, for example, tends to become less efficient over time, but few people know that HVAC equipment often physically lasts longer than it is economically viable.

Boston was followed in the rankings by New York City, Washington, San Francisco and Seattle. The lowest-ranking city was Oklahoma City, with Birmingham, Raleigh, Detroit and New Orleans rounding out the bottom five.

Several cities near the top of the list have shown marked improvement since last year’s assessment from the ACEEE. Those include Washington (2), Los Angeles (12), Chicago (6), Minneapolis (7) and Seattle (5).

As the report points out, however, there’s still quite a bit of room for improvement even in the most efficient cities. Boston was the only city to earn above 80 points (out of 100), and only 13 cities total scored above a 50%.