City of Boston: A Sustainability Success Story

September 1, 2016 Bridget Cameron

The City of Boston is one of America’s oldest cities, first founded in 1630, and is widely recognized as the economic and cultural hub of New England.  Since adopting its Executive Order on Climate Action in 2007, Boston has also risen as a national sustainability leader by improving energy efficiency, utilizing green power, and addressing climate change.  It has already achieved GHG emission reductions of 17% since 2005, and the City is on track to reach its ambitious goal of 25% by 2020.

Innovative Strategies

Innovation is a key component of Boston’s sustainability strategy.  It utilizes green power Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) to meet 27% of its purchased electricity needs and uses leading-edge REC swapping.  By selling RECs affiliated with its solar arrays into RPS compliance markets, the City is able to reinvest proceeds to procure its own voluntary RECs from national markets.

In regards to energy efficiency measures, Boston’s LED Street Lighting initiative has upgraded 64,000 electric street lights that accounted for 65 million kWh annually.  47,400 lamps have been replaced with more efficient LED bulbs, to date, amounting to annual electricity savings of $4.1 million.

Complementary efforts consider both the City’s business and residential communities.  The Building Energy Disclosure Reporting Ordinance initiative requires medium- and large-sized buildings to disclose their energy usage annually and perform an ENERGY STAR assessment/action every five years.  In addition, Renew Boston is an encompassing, three-tiered residential program that provides incentives for efficient building upgrades, promotes energy saving opportunities, and encourages solar adoption.

Comprehensive Communication

In 2010, Boston launched its Greenovate program which brought every sustainability initiative together under a single communications and engagement umbrella.  Greenovate has been responsible for building relationships between City departments and organizations to increase green power capacity and unify Bostonians around common environmental goals and interests.

Boston has also championed several initiatives to build awareness about climate change and encourage its citizenry to adopt energy-reducing and green power strategies.  The Greenovate/Solarize Boston program incentivizes residential solar adoption, and it has already led to 116 projects online with a combined capacity of 522 kW.  The Mayor’s Carbon Cup initiative recognizes large organizations with energy-reducing and green power commitments.  Since 2014, seven entities have joined the Carbon Cup and committed to a 35% GHG reduction.  Finally, the Green Ribbon Commission is a group of Boston business, institutional, and civic leaders who work to develop shared strategies that combat climate change.  The collective impact of these initiatives is demonstrated by the widespread adoption of clean energy and efficiency programs across the City.

Boston’s innovative strategies and comprehensive communication efforts have catapulted it to a position of national environmental leadership.  It has been ranked by The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Green City Index as the 5th most sustainable city in the U.S.A. and 6th in North America.  In 2013, the City was also recognized by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy as the most energy-efficient city in the United States.

Is your organization ready to be recognized as an environmental leader? Contact us to learn more about ways to incorporate renewable energy and advance your sustainability strategy today.   

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