Communications / April 9, 2020
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Bostonians rejoice! The city scored the top spot in the American Council for Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) 2019 City Clean Energy Scorecard. The scorecard, which is available for download on ACEEE’s website, ranks cities across five categories: Local Government Operations, Community-wide Initiatives, Buildings Policies, Energy and Water Utilities, and Transportation Policies. This issue of Marketing Trends gives a brief overview of where Boston scored highly, where and how improvements can be made, and what the scores could mean for AEC marketing.
Boston led all cities in this category and scored perfectly in the subcategory of procurement and construction policies. According to the report, “The city’s stretch codes make its building energy codes among the most stringent in the United States. On top of this, Boston has an EV-ready policy that requires parking structures to have 5% of spaces equipped with EV-chargers and an additional 10% to be EV-ready.” AEC marketers should become familiar with the stretch code—an above-code appendix to the “base” energy code. 
Boston scored perfectly in the efficiency efforts subcategory (8/8 pts) due to its energy efficiency programs, natural gas efficiency, formal city-utility partnership, and low income and multifamily efficiency programs. However, the city fell short in terms of providing renewable energy incentives. To improve this area, Boston could look to San Diego—where the city utility provided more than $650,000 for the installation of new distributed solar systems in 2017 alone.
The Complete Streets Policies subcategory assesses the interconnectivity of roads to provide access to private vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists, and public transportation. Complete streets allow people living in urban areas to make fewer trips by car, and thus produce both economic and environmental benefits. While Boston scored in the lowest tier possible on the ACEEE scorecard, the City of Boston has defined a list of complete streets projects on its website; and MassDOT recently released both pedestrian and bicycle safety improvement plans for 2019 , indicating that improving pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure and reducing the number of trips made by private car is high on the city’s list of priorities.
This was one of very few areas in which Boston was not ranked in the top ten. To improve, the city can look to Seattle’s example. Seattle scored highly due to a citywide greenhouse gas reduction goal, its intention to maintain Seattle City Light as a carbon-neutral utility, and engagement with low-income communities and communities of color in its environmental planning. While the report did not delve into the City of Boston’s Climate Action Plan, look for the city to continue to leverage its strong building code and asset management system to reach its goals related to clean air, improving mobility, building a green economy, and protecting all Bostonians.