How Energy Efficient Is Your City?

A new report ranks 34 major US cities by their energy-use policies.

<a href="http://motherjones.com/authors/jaeah-lee">Jaeah Lee</a>


Does your city have a plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions dramatically? Is it seeking to reduce car use through bike share programs and public transit subsidies? Does it partner with utility companies to help small businesses and homeowners save energy? And does it lobby for statewide energy-efficiency legislation?

Those are just a few of the policies that have made Boston the top-ranked city for energy efficiency, according to a new report from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. Portland, Ore., placed second, followed by New York, San Francisco, and Seattle.

ACEEE ranked 34 major American cities—the 25 most populous incorporated ones, plus the central cities of nine other major metropolitan areas—according to their efforts to promote energy savings. The report looked at building codes, community-wide energy initiatives, transportation policies, energy-saving programs involving public utilities, and efforts to improve the efficiency of government building. You can see where each city ranked on the map above.

The cities’ scores are based largely on their implementation of efficiency policies—enforceable building standards, for instance—rather than on quantifiable reductions in energy use and emissions. During a conference call following the release of the report, ACEEE official Eric Mackres said the report focused on specific policies because the group wanted it to serve as a “playbook of actions you can take to improve efficiency.” He added that “because most cities aren’t as good at promoting energy efficiency as Boston and Portland, we don’t have as good of data on energy savings [and] energy consumption…and as a result, we weren’t able to compare all of the cities in the scorecard using those energy metrics.”

Most cities did substantially worse than the top performers. While Boston received 76.75 of the possible 100 points, 23 cities earned fewer than 50 points. Jacksonville, Fla., finished dead last with only 17.25 points. The Sunshine State is also home to two other cities—Miami and Tampa—that finished in the bottom 10. Mackres pointed to several factors that led cities to score poorly, including a lack of support from some state governments and a lack of knowledge about the issue on the part of city policymakers. “A number of cities at the bottom [have] taken a variety of actions, but in a lot of cases they’ve been piecemeal and not tied into a broader strategy,” he added.

More Mother Jones reporting on Climate Desk

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate