How Energy Efficient Is Your City?

A new report ranks 34 major US cities by their energy-use policies.

<a href="http://motherjones.com/authors/jaeah-lee">Jaeah Lee</a>

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Does your city have a plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions dramatically? Is it seeking to reduce car use through bike share programs and public transit subsidies? Does it partner with utility companies to help small businesses and homeowners save energy? And does it lobby for statewide energy-efficiency legislation?

Those are just a few of the policies that have made Boston the top-ranked city for energy efficiency, according to a new report from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. Portland, Ore., placed second, followed by New York, San Francisco, and Seattle.

ACEEE ranked 34 major American cities—the 25 most populous incorporated ones, plus the central cities of nine other major metropolitan areas—according to their efforts to promote energy savings. The report looked at building codes, community-wide energy initiatives, transportation policies, energy-saving programs involving public utilities, and efforts to improve the efficiency of government building. You can see where each city ranked on the map above.

The cities’ scores are based largely on their implementation of efficiency policies—enforceable building standards, for instance—rather than on quantifiable reductions in energy use and emissions. During a conference call following the release of the report, ACEEE official Eric Mackres said the report focused on specific policies because the group wanted it to serve as a “playbook of actions you can take to improve efficiency.” He added that “because most cities aren’t as good at promoting energy efficiency as Boston and Portland, we don’t have as good of data on energy savings [and] energy consumption…and as a result, we weren’t able to compare all of the cities in the scorecard using those energy metrics.”

Most cities did substantially worse than the top performers. While Boston received 76.75 of the possible 100 points, 23 cities earned fewer than 50 points. Jacksonville, Fla., finished dead last with only 17.25 points. The Sunshine State is also home to two other cities—Miami and Tampa—that finished in the bottom 10. Mackres pointed to several factors that led cities to score poorly, including a lack of support from some state governments and a lack of knowledge about the issue on the part of city policymakers. “A number of cities at the bottom [have] taken a variety of actions, but in a lot of cases they’ve been piecemeal and not tied into a broader strategy,” he added.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

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Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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