City greening

These energy efficient cities could help you save money on utilities and home upgrades

I f you live in Boston, Portland (Ore.), New York City, San Francisco, Seattle or Austin (Texas), you’re residing in one of our nation’s greenest cities, a new report by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy says.

The ACEEE’s first ever Energy Efficiency Scorecard analyzed the country’s 34 most populous cities. Boston took the top spot with 76.75 points out of a total 100.

The top-scoring city was not the leader in all five policy areas, says Eric Mackres, one of the report’s authors. A number of cities were high scoring in more than one category.

“I think it’s an exciting time with a lot going on at the local level with cities adopting policies, programs and initiatives around energy efficiency,” Mackres says. Based upon five criteria (local government operations, community-wide initiatives, buildings policies, energy and water utilities and transportation policies), the report scored cities on a number of metrics within each policy area. Overall scores were gathered from each city’s five policy area scores.

The report divided cities into six tiers of those with similar scores. The cities that have the most potential to rise in the rankings are those found in the second tier (Washington, D.C.; Minneapolis, Minn.; Chicago; Philadelphia and Denver), according to Mackres.

“Those are the up-and-comers that maybe don’t have as much of a historical track record in doing a lot on energy efficiency, but have really taken to it over the past decade or less and are making significant progress by launching a lot of new policies,” he says.

If you’re looking to buy a home, new programs may help you to estimate future utility costs. “These disclosure policies are attempting to fill that information gap and make it easier for folks in the real estate market to understand what their costs are going to be related to energy,” Mackres says.

— Alexandra Gallucci

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