Cleantech Market Intelligence
Boston Leads the Way on Energy Efficiency
With a few exceptions like San Diego, U.S. cities have been slower than their counterparts in Europe and Asia to adopt the smart city label. That doesn’t mean they don’t understand the important interplay between economic development, sustainability, and quality of life that define many smart city programs. A new report from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), a nonprofit organization that works to advance energy efficiency in the United States, highlights the progress that U.S. cities are making toward a range of energy efficiency measures. The 2013 City Energy Efficiency Report Card assesses energy efficiency programs across the 34 largest U.S. cities and ranks them across five areas: transportation, local government operations, buildings, energy & water utilities, and general community initiatives.
At the top of the rankings is Boston. The report draws particular attention to Boston’s community initiatives and above all to its relatively strong showing across all five categories. The ACEEE report also singles out Portland for its progress on transportation and local government operations, Seattle for its lead in building policies (see also the work Microsoft is doing with the city in this area), San Francisco for its utility programs, and Austin for energy efficiency policy.
Overall the report shows a strong commitment among U.S. cities to improve energy efficiency as part of broader initiatives around the environment, quality of life, and economic renewal. As cities build on these efforts, one opportunity is to develop more connected thinking across diverse projects, which when brought together can provide a strong basis for a smart city vision.
Boston provides an example of how cities might make progress here. It has strengthened its commitment to improving its energy performance through its decision to implement an enterprise energy management system (EEMS) for all city operations. Based on Schneider Electric’s StruxureWare solution, the Boston system will help monitor energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, and related conservation projects including those spanning city buildings, traffic systems, and street lighting.
It’s not surprising to find Detroit at the other end of the rankings in 33rd position (only Jacksonville scored lower). City leaders and citizens in Detroit can make a strong case for having more important concerns at the moment.
Meanwhile, the progress other cities are making suggests that a commitment to energy efficiency and other environment programs is becoming central to the vision of the modern U.S. city. Hopefully, energy efficiency will be a key part of Detroit’s rebuilding strategy.