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2015 City Energy Efficiency Scores Are In

By Barbara Vergetis Lundin, FierceEnergy

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. That is according to findings in the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy's (ACEEE) 2nd edition of the City Energy Efficiency Scorecard.

Boston continues to be the most energy-efficient city in the nation, receiving 82 out of a possible 100 points -- up more than five points from 2013.

"It is an honor Boston has been recognized as America's most energy-efficient city," Martin J. Walsh, mayor of Boston, said. "Our goal is to help Boston residents and businesses save energy and money, and through collaborative efforts with our utility partners, Eversource and National Grid, we are creating a thriving, healthy, and innovative Boston."

The remaining U.S. cities in the top 10, in order, are: New York City, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Minneapolis, Portland, Austin, and Denver.

Nine of the top 10 cities improved their scores from 2013. Further, outside of the top 10, many improvements were in the double digits. For example, Los Angeles was up 20 points due in part to the release of the Sustainable City pLAn and new goals for energy efficiency, transportation, and municipal operations. Chicago's increased score was driven by the enactment of a new commercial building benchmarking ordinance. In addition to Los Angeles and Chicago, Washington, Minneapolis, and Seattle are among the most-improved cities since 2013.

Although not in the double digits, Atlanta leads the Southeast with an improvement of five points driven by local government operations, buildings policies, energy and water utilities, and transportation policies. Just recently, Atlanta became the first city in the Southeast to adopt a comprehensive energy policy that aims to significantly reduce citywide commercial energy use. The ordinance is expected to spur the creation of more than 1,000 jobs a year in the first few years, as well as drive a 20 percent reduction in commercial energy consumption and reduce the city's carbon emissions by 50 percent in 2030.

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.

Despite positive progress, the energy efficiency scores across the board demonstrate 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.

"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. Cities are also improving their approaches when it comes to tracking and communicating their efforts to save energy," David Ribeiro, ACEEE research analyst and lead report author, said. "By capturing these efforts in the 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."

The leading cities in the area of energy utilities are Boston, San Francisco, Portland, Minneapolis, and Chicago, where utility energy efficiency programs offer high levels of savings, and consumer engagement and access to energy data are productive. For water utilities, Boston, San Francisco, Seattle, New York City, Los Angeles, Austin, Atlanta, Fort Worth, and El Paso are the leading cities tackling efficiency in their water systems.

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