America’s Most Energy Efficient Cities

America’s Most Energy Efficient Cities


If energy efficiency is an important factor in where you choose to live, the annual Clean Energy Scorecard — which ranks 100 of the largest U.S. cities according to their policies for greater energy efficiency — can help you gauge just how green your home city, or one you’re considering living in, is becoming.

The report is published by the nonprofit American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), and the recently released 2021 edition increases the focus on social equity in energy, rewarding efforts that affected marginalized communities.

Although New York took a huge leap forward in 2021, when it became the first major U.S. city to ban the use of natural gas in all new construction, the legislation occurred too late in the year to be considered for the scorecard. Nevertheless, the city still finished in the top 10. In the category of buildings policies — one of five categories weighed to determine each city’s rank — New York was bested only by Denver. Energy building codes and their enforcement were strongly considered in this category, among other metrics.

San Francisco, Washington and Boston rose to the top in the transportation policies category, which measured investments in efficient and sustainable vehicle fleets and infrastructure, among other efforts.

In the category of communitywide initiatives, equity-driven approaches were heavily rewarded, such as those that gave marginalized residents a formal role in energy policy decision making. Seattle and San Jose, Calif., scored highest here.

San Jose also came out on top, along with Boston, in the category of energy and water utilities, where points were awarded for efforts to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and save water.

Finally, in the area of local government operations, Boston, Orlando, Fla., Portland, Ore., and San Francisco shared the top spot. The category covered procurement and construction policies, like ones that would increase efficient vehicle fleets and public lighting, and advance the use of renewable energy.

This week’s chart shows the top 10 cities on the 2021 Clean Energy Scorecard and the categories in which each scored highest.



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