2019 Clean Energy Scorecard Ranks Top U.S. Cities

Key Takeaways:

  • Leaders include Boston, SF, Seattle, Minneapolis, DC, NY, LA, Denver, Austin and Portland
  • Between 2017-19, cities adopted more than 265 renewable initiatives to cut carbon and boost renewables
  • American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy says cities still not tracked to meet climate goals

American Council for an Energy-Efficient EconomyAccording to the 2019 City Clean Energy Scorecard, recently published by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), from January 2017 and April 2019 U.S. cities adopted more than 265 initiatives aimed at increasing renewables as an energy source or cutting carbon emissions. David Ribeiro, ACEEE’s senior research manager, also addresses those cities that have been reluctant to introduce clean energy initiatives saying, “Some cities will need to redouble their efforts.”

Cities have fast become the strongest proving ground for utilities, businesses, government agencies and organizations driving the clean energy transition on the Path to 100%. The ACEEE report ranked 75 large U.S. cities in terms of their energy- and emissions-saving activities in five areas: transportation emissions reduction, zoning policies, parking policies, distributed energy systems and engagement of low-income communities in environmental planning.

ACEEE found that the 10 best performing urban areas were (in order):

  1. Boston,
  2. San Francisco,
  3. Seattle,
  4. Minneapolis,
  5. Washington, DC,
  6. New York,
  7. Los Angeles,
  8. Denver,
  9. Austin and
  10. Portland, Or.

Among the top 20 cities, eight were in California while three cities in the eastern U.S. (Cincinnati, Hartford, CT and Providence, RI) were considered three “cities to watch” due to their more aggressive clean energy policies adopted in the past few years.

However, despite many concerted efforts to ramp-up renewables and dial-down emissions, the ACEEE report finds that a majority of U.S. cities still aren’t on track to reach their energy goals (and there are some not even tracking their own goal progress). About one-third of major U.S. cities haven’t set GHG (“Greenhouse Gas”) targets, and among those that have, nearly half are not monitoring their success. On the upside, the public and private sectors have worked together to increase carbon reductions and invest in clean energy technology. Interestingly enough, cities are doing better with reducing emissions and improving energy efficiency in buildings than they are in transportation. Some cities, such as Minneapolis, are going a step further by addressing environmental equity problems; doing so by establishing “green zones” in poorer parts of the city, directly addressing the problems that the impoverished suffer from environmental challenges.


What We’re Reading, “ACEEE scorecard: Few US cities on track to meet climate goals,” published on Smart Cities Dive