State and Local Policy Database


City Scorecard Rank


Boston, MA

69.50Scored out of 100Updated 10/2020
Community-Wide Initiatives
Score: 5.5 out of 15 points
Community-Wide Climate Mitigation and Energy GoalsList All

Climate Mitigation Goal

Boston has formally adopted goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 50% below 2005 levels by 2030 and to be carbon neutral by 2050. These goals are included in the city's Imagine Boston 2030 plan. ACEEE projects the city will achieve at least 75% of its near-term community-wide GHG emissions reduction goal. 

The city reports emissions data to the Carbon Disclosure Project. The city also publicly discloses emissions data on an online dashboard. The Analyze Boston webpage displays raw emissions data.   

Energy Efficiency Goal

We did not find information regarding a community-wide energy efficiency goal for the city.

Renewable Energy Goal

We did not find information regarding a community-wide renewable energy goal for the city.

Last updated: August 2023

Equity-Driven Approaches to Clean Energy Planning, Implementation, and EvaluationList All

Equity-Driven Community Engagement

Boston has conducted community engagement for several of its clean energy initiatives. Mayor Wu's Neighborhood Coffee Hour is a community engagement that gives residents the chance to speak with the Mayor and staff from various City departments about open space and their neighborhoods. The Environment Department has participated in this event engaged residents on both Boston Community Choice Electricity and Mass Save Programs. The city also conducted a webinar available in 12 different languages including American Sign Language Interpretation for its Community Choice Electricity program.

For the development of the building emissions performance standard, the City worked with One Square World (facilitation experts) and Alternatives for Community and Environment (local frontline community-based environmental justice organization), using a model of collaborative governance, to convene a resident advisory group, co-equal in importance to a technical advisory group. Goals included minimizing harm (displacement, environmental health, energy costs) and maximizing benefits and opportunities (building comfort and health, jobs, air quality, fair housing, transparency) for residents impacted by the policy. One Square World and ACE worked with three community partner organizations - Chinese Progressive Association, New England United for Justice and City Life/Vida Urbana - identified due to their presence and trusted status in communities likely to be impacted, such as Chinatown. Their organizers were engaged to recruit residents who live in large multifamily buildings and who would be directly affected by the ordinance. The resident advisory group met three times to shared their lived experiences, determine community priorities for the ordinance and share feedback that directly informed the policy's development and design. All meeting and outreach materials were translated into key languages, with systematic meeting interpretation in Cantonese, as well as interpretation in Spanish and Taishanese as requested.

While not involving a direct dialogue between relevant decision-makers and residents, the city's 2019 Climate Action Plan Update included a process of public engagement conducted in partnership with local community-based organizations. A street team composed of members of target stakeholder groups for outreach (youth, low-income individuals, people of color, and those with limited-English proficiency) conducted outreach at local neighborhood events, with materials available in all 6 of Boston’s main languages (English, Haitian Creole, Cape Verdean Creole, Chinese, Portuguese, Vietnamese).

Equity-Driven Decision-Making

We were unable to determine if the city has created a formal role for marginalized community residents or local organizations representing those communities to participate in decision-making that affects the creation or implementation of a local energy, sustainability, or climate action plan.

Though limited in scope to only specific initiatives, the city sometimes provides a formal role in decision-making for marginalized communities. One example is its "collaborative governance" approach to developing a building emissions performance standard, which aims to collaborate with and center communities that would be most affected by the policy. This project team includes Alternatives for Community & Environment (ACE, an environmental justice organization) and One Square World, which has gathered a group of community members. The project team is co-creating the stakeholder engagement plan with (compensated) community partners that represent traditionally marginalized communities. 

Equity Accountability Measures

The city's Resilient Boston plan sets specific goals and indicators to improve transportation access and increase proximity to parks for disadvantaged residents.

Last updated: August 2023

Clean Distributed Energy ResourcesList All

Through Boston Planning and Development Agency’s (BPDA) Smart Utilities Policy for Article 80 Development Review, developments over 1.5 million square feet are required to develop a Feasibility Assessment to determine the viability of district energy microgrids and combined heat and power for their project site. When deemed economically and technically feasible, developments must prepare a District Energy Master Plan to coordinate system deployment with the development schedule. Systems are expected to optimize emissions reductions, resilience, and energy cost reductions. 

Additionally, as part of Article 37 of the Boston Zoning Code, developers must submit a carbon-neutral building assessment, which includes an assessment of the feasibility of on-site solar and storage. However, these measures did not earn Boston points due to scoring methodology changes. 

Last updated: August 2023

Mitigation of Heat Islands List All

Urban Heat Island Mitigation Policies and Programs

BPDA’s Article 80 Development Process requires developments over 100,000 square feet to install green infrastructure to retain 1.25 inches of rainfall on site.

Boston adopted a private tree protection ordinance.

Boston's Local Wetland Ordinance requires the Boston Conservation Commission to consider climate impacts such as rising sea levels in applications for developments, construction, or special events. It expands the Commission's authority to fully protect certain wetland resources that provide critical ecological services. 

Resilience Hubs

We were unable to determine if the city has supported the creation of resilience hubs that incorporate clean energy resources and are sited in disadvantaged communities.

Last updated: August 2023

Buildings Policies
Score: 19 out of 30 points
Building Energy CodesList All


Massachusetts law requires statewide adoption of each new International Energy Conservation Code edition within one year of its publication. Massachusetts adopted the 2018 IECC for commercial and residential buildings. Massachusetts allows its local jurisdictions to upgrade their energy codes with a state-determined stretch code, which Boston adopted. By adopting the statewide stretch code, the city requires new buildings to exceed the base energy code by 20%. The adoption also designates Boston as a Green Community


Commercial buildings must comply with the Massachusetts Stretch Energy Code (new version based on 2021 IECC). The city’s zEPI score for its commercial energy code is 46.5


Residential buildings must comply with the Massachusetts Stretch Energy Code (new version based on 2021 IECC). The city’s zEPI score for its residential energy code is 51.68.

Solar-readiness policies 

Boston follows solar-ready requirements set in the state energy codes. The new specialized stretch energy code will require solar installation in certain circumstances for mixed-fuel buildings.

EV-charging readiness policies

Boston’s EV Policy requires 25% of parking spaces to host electric vehicle chargers and requires the remaining spaces to be EV-ready to the maximum extent practicable. This policy applies to large projects (over 50,000 square feet) and development within the parking freeze areas. 

Low-energy use requirements 

The Boston Planning & Development Agency requires large new developments (50,000 SF and above) to follow Article 37 Green Building and Climate Resiliency Guidelines. These guidelines require achieving LEED certification and completing a carbon-neutral building assessment and a climate resiliency checklist. 


In 2021, Boston passed the Building Emissions Reduction and Disclosure Ordinance (BERDO), which is a building performance standard that requires nonresidential buildings with 20,000 square feet or more and residential buildings with 15 or more units to report their annual energy use to the city and to meet declining emissions standards to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. Newly constructed buildings that meet the BERDO size thresholds will be subject to these requirements upon becoming operational. 

Last updated: August 2023

Building Energy Code Compliance and EnforcementList All

The City of Boston Inspectional Service Department (ISD) employs 43 FTE Inspectors that are responsible for energy code verification in the context of buildings and their electrical and plumbing systems. 

The City of Boston (ISD) enforces building, housing, sanitation, and safety regulations that are mandated by City and State government. ISD also conducts plan review to ensure compliance with codes. According to the Code, performance testing is also required for all new residential development and redevelopment. Massachusetts’s Department of Energy Resources administers the Mass Save Program, which offers education and training on the state’s stretch code.

Last updated: August 2023

Policies Targeting Existing BuildingsList All

Commercial and multifamily benchmarking

The City of Boston passed the Building Emissions Reduction and Disclosure Ordinance (BERDO) in 2021, this replaced a previous version of BERDO: the Building Energy Reporting and Disclosure Ordinance. BERDO now applies to all nonresidential buildings over 20,000 SF and all residential buildings with at least 15 units. Covered buildings must benchmark and report their energy use annually. The City discloses the annual reporting data from BERDO publicly.

Building performance standards

The City of Boston passed the Building Emissions Reduction and Disclosure Ordinance (BERDO) in 2021. BERDO applies to all nonresidential buildings over 20,000 SF and all residential buildings with at least 15 units. Covered buildings must report their energy use annually and meet declining emissions standards and reach 'net-zero' emissions by 2050. BERDO establishes an Equitable Emissions Investment Fund that will support emissions reduction projects that benefit Environment Justice populations.

Energy audit requirements

The City of Boston does not have any energy audit requirements, but all properties that pay utilities are eligible for a no-cost energy audit and resulting incentives through Mass Save. 


The Boston Industrial Development Financing Authority’s Tax-Exempt Lease Program provides non-profit institutions a vehicle to pursue performance-based energy efficiency improvements through a lease financing agreement with a vetted Energy Service Company.

Massachusetts passed commercial PACE-enabling legislation for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. 

The city’s Senior Save Program allows senior citizens earning less than 80% of the area median income to access funds to replace antiquated heating systems. 

The City of Boston through the new Large Building Green Energy Retrofits Program will provide up to $50,000 per unit for deep energy retrofits for income-restricted buildings with 15 or more units in Boston and in coordination with this program, the Mayor's office is also offering up to $10,000 in technical assistance grants to support building owners in learning about their building's energy use.

Equitable program outcomes

Boston is collecting data at the project level for ARPA-funded projects including those receiving incentives through the Mayor's Office of Housing Deep Energy Retrofit programs and Solarize Eastie.

Voluntary programs

The E+ Green Building seeks to advance industry practice and public awareness of energy-efficient green buildings and to construct high performance 1 to 4 unit residential building prototypes that can serve as models for future practice. This program is a pilot initiative of the City of Boston’s Department of Neighborhood Development (DND), Office of Environment & Energy Services, and the Boston Redevelopment Authority. There are currently three built projects and two active projects. 

Last updated: August 2023

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Workforce DevelopmentList All

Workforce development for disadvantaged workers

The Mayor's Office of Workforce Development works in connecting low-income residents with training and employment opportunities via PowerCorpsBOS, which is a green job program. PowerCopsBOS provides trainees with a stipend, a monthly transit pass, and job placement assistance. The University of Massachusetts, Amherst is a partner of the program.

Workforce development for the broader community

We could not determine if city has partnered with a local education institution, labor union, or community-based organization to create, support, and/or incentivize the development of clean energy workforce development initiatives that target training and support services for potential or existing workers from the broader community to obtain and keep in-demand jobs.

Outcomes tracking

We could not determine if the city has instituted a mechanism to measure the performance and/or success of equitable workforce development initiatives focused on the clean energy sector.

Last updated: August 2023

Score: 22.5 out of 30 points
Sustainable Transportation Planning List All

Sustainable Transportation Plan

The Go Boston 2030 plan was released in 2017 and includes sustainable transportation strategies. The plan contains a goal of reducing GHG emissions from transportation by 50% by 2030 from 2005 levels.

VMT/GHG Target and Stringency

According to the Go Boston 2030 plan, the city has a goal of reducing GHG emissions from transportation by 50% by 2030 from 2005 levels. The City of Boston’s target requires a 4% average per-capita annual decrease from its target baseline. Therefore, Boston earned 2 points for the stringency of its target.

Progress Achieved Toward VMT/GHG Targets

Based on the data provided, Boston is projected to reduce its emissions by less than 1% per year. Therefore, the city is not on track to meet its GHG targets.

Last Updated: August 2023

Location Efficiency List All

Location Efficient Zoning Codes

We were unable to find information indicating that the City of Boston has made changes to its zoning code in the past 10 years to facilitate more residential density, mixed-use development, or transit-oriented development. 

Parking Requirements

Although Boston has removed parking minimums for specific developments (for example, developments in which at least 60% of the units are income-restricted), this does not apply to all residential developments in a particular zone, neighborhood, or district. Therefore, the city did not earn points for this metric.

Location Efficiency Incentives and Disclosure

The City of Boston does not have location-efficient development incentives or disclosure policies.

Affordable Housing around Transit

The City of Boston does not require, preserve, or incentivize the development of affordable housing near transit.

Last Updated: August 2023

Mode Shift List All

Mode Shift Targets

According to Boston's Go Boston 2030 plan, released in 2017, the City has a goal of increasing the commute mode share of transit by a third (from 34% in 2014), of walking by almost half (from 14%), and of biking by four times (from 2%). The City also aims to decrease the commute mode share of carpooling marginally (from 6%) and of driving alone by half (from 39%).

Progress Achieved Toward Mode Shift Targets

According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the City of Boston's commute mode share of driving alone decreased from 37% in 2017 to 32% in 2021. Therefore, Boston earned points for this metric.

Subsidized Access to Efficient Transportation Options

MBTA, the primary public transit agency in Boston, offers reduced fares to low-income adults aged 18 to 25 who are enrolled in a Youth Pass partner program, such as MassHealth, Supplemental Needs Assistance Program (SNAP), Year Up, or public housing. Additionally, the City of Boston provides discounts on taxi rides to residents age 65 or older and to those with disabilities. Finally, the City of Boston partners with Good2Go to offer an electric vehicle car sharing option to residents; those making below a certain income level or who are participating in certain assistance programs (for example, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program) can receive a reduced rate membership.

Last Updated: August 2023

Public Transit List All

Transit Funding

The transit entities that serve the City of Boston have received $876,550,580.40 on average annually between 2017 and 2021 from local sources. That equates to roughly $281.91 per capita between 2017 and 2021 within the service area. 

Access to Transit Services

The AllTransit Performance Score measures a given community's transit access and performance. The score considers connections to other routes, access to jobs, service frequency, and the percent of commuters who ride transit to work. The City of Boston's AllTransit Performance Score is 9.3, scoring the full 4 points in the City Scorecard.

Last Updated: August 2023

Efficient VehiclesList All

Efficient Vehicle Purchase Incentives

We were unable to find information indicating that either the City of Boston or the local utility provide incentives for purchasing efficient vehicles.

Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Incentives

Eversource, a utility serving the City of Boston, offers rebates of 50% of the cost of up to 10 Level 2 EV charging ports for commercial and large (5+ units) multifamily buildings. The utility also offers rebates of 100% of the cost for commercial and large multifamily buildings in environmental justice communities where the annual median household income is 65 percent or less of the statewide annual median household income.

Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Requirements

The City of Boston does not require new developments to install EV charging stations.

EV Charging Ports

The City of Boston has 134.2 vehicle charging ports per 100,000 people available for public use.

Electric School Bus Goal

Neither the City of Boston nor the local school district have set an electric school bus goal.

Electric Transit Bus Goal

Neither the City of Boston nor the local transit agency have set an electric transit bus goal.

BONUS: Equitable EV Charging

Boston is working with the utility Eversource to deploy EV charging infrastructure in municipal parking lots in Environmental Justice Communities (EJCs). EJCs are areas where the block group's annual median household income is equal to or less than 65% of the statewide median, where 25% or more of residents identify as a race other than white, or where 25% or more of households have nobody over the age of 14 who speaks English only or very well.

Last Updated: September 2023

Freight System EfficiencyList All

Sustainable Freight Plans

Boston does not have a sustainable freight plan or freight mobility plan. However, the city is pursuing curbside management to improve freight efficiency.

Open Data Portals

The City of Boston does not have an open data portal with real-time freight data.

Last Updated: August 2023

Community Energy Infrastructure
Score: 15 out of 15 points
Community Energy Infrastructure Summary List All

Eversource, an investor-owned utility (IOU), is the primary electric utility serving Boston. National Grid (Boston Gas) is also an IOU and is Boston’s primary gas utility. Both utilities provide their customers with a variety of energy efficiency programs. The City of Boston partners with the utilities and is an active promoter of their efficiency programs. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts requires spending and savings targets for its utilities through an EERS. In 2021, Massachusetts passed new climate change legislation that sets new goals for emissions reductions and sets a path to net-zero emissions by 2050, while also increasing protections for Environmental Justice communities and procuring offshore wind energy by 2027. To learn more about utility policies and programs for the entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts, please visit the State Policy Database. At the state level, Boston strongly advocates for additional spending requirements for energy efficiency projects for all of its utilities.

The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) is Boston’s regional water authority. MWRA provides its Boston customers with water and sewer services and bills customers. The Boston Water and Sewer Commission (BWSC) owns the lines, hydrants, and pumping stations. BWSC also has jurisdiction over the stormwater management of the city. The City of Boston partners with MWRA and BWSC to increase the energy and water efficiency both at end use and throughout the system.

Last Updated: July 2021

Electricity and Natural Gas Efficiency SavingsList All

In 2019, Eversource reported a net incremental electricity savings of 520,514 MWh, representing 2.22% of its retail sales. In 2018, Eversource spent $28,306,5149 on energy efficiency programs, which represents 10.20% of its retail revenue.

In 2019, National Grid reported 18.87 MMtherms in net incremental gas savings, representing 2.84% of its annual retail sales. In 2019, National Grid spent $152,646,150 on energy efficiency, which equates to $233.36 per residential customer. These savings values are for the utilities’ entire Massachusetts service territory, not just Boston.

Eversource offers electric efficiency incentives and technical assistance to residential and commercial/industrial customers. National Grid similarly offers natural gas efficiency programs to residential and business customers. Both utilities also sponsor whole-building programs, including multifamily buildings, through the state-wide Mass Save program. Their “whole facility” approach focuses on a facility’s thermal envelope (shell insulation and air leakage conditions for units heated by natural gas or electricity) as well as lighting and mechanical systems.

The City of Boston partners with its energy utilities through the Renew Boston program. The City of Boston also takes an active role in advising the utility-sponsored energy efficiency programs through a seat on the Energy Efficiency Advisory Council (EEAC). Greenovate Boston is a city-led initiative to involve all Bostonians in Boston’s Climate Action plan. This project is sponsored by the electric and natural gas utilities and also partners with the Action for Boston Community Development group, which assists low-income households in fuel assistance, energy conservation, and weatherization. The city partners with Eversource through the Make Ready Program to install electric vehicle charging stations. Finally, the city has partnered with Eversource and National Grid to monitor consumption and measure progress under its Building Energy Reporting and Disclosure Ordinance goal.

Last Updated: August 2021

Low-Income & Multifamily EE Programs List All

Low-Income Programs

The state of Massachusetts is served by the Low-Income Energy Affordability Network (LEAN), which is a network of Community Action Agencies, public and private housing owners, government organizations and public utilities that work together to provide low-income efficiency solutions in the state. Through LEAN, National Grid and Eversource participate in the dual fuel Income Eligible Coordinated Delivery Core Initiative (formerly Low-Income Single Family and Low-Income Multi-Family), which serves customers at or below 60% of the state median income level for 1–4-unit buildings or buildings with 5+ units that have 50% of units are at or below 60% AMI. The initiative offers no cost measures such as lighting and smart strips, appliance replacement, water saving measures, insulation and air sealing, and heating system replacement.

The program serves all income eligible customers that meet the program guidelines. Customers typically qualify for fuel assistance and other qualifying government assistance programs and the utility Discount Rate. Customers with a high WAP score and high energy burden are given priority. The initiative is implemented by local Community Action Program (CAP) Agencies and is integrated with the Department of Housing and Community Development’s (DHCD) Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP). There is also a statewide Energy Efficiency Advisory Council and an Income Eligible Best Practices Committee that provide guidance on income eligible utility-sponsored programs in the state.

Customers typically qualify for fuel assistance and other qualifying government assistance programs and the utility Discount Rate. Customers with a high WAP score and high energy burden are given priority. CAP agencies leverage additional funding from the Department of Energy and DHCD for heating systems and health and safety repairs. CAPs leverage utility funds and WAP funds for repairs of health and safety measures such as knob and tube removal, asbestos removal, combustion safety, mold and moisture remediation, roof repair, pest remediation and others. Additionally, the City of Boston Credit Union became a Mass Save HEAT Loan Participating Lender by offering customers the opportunity to apply for 0% loans for the installation of qualified energy efficient improvements.

In 2019, according to Eversource, it achieved 19,307 MWh in energy savings, while spending $32,043,930 on its low-income programs and serving 15,825 low-income customers. In 2019, National Grid achieved 1.46 MMtherms in energy savings, while spending $32,021,931 on its low-income programs and served 6,621 households.

Multifamily Programs

Both Eversource and National Grid offer a Residential Coordinated Delivery initiative. The goal is to deliver a seamless experience and maximum energy savings to every customer, regardless of unit type or ownership structure. By focusing the delivery of services on building science, opportunity, customer choice, and what each customer has the authority to implement, customers are in control of their energy future. Residential Coordinated Delivery includes services to single-family homes, including free-standing town homes, smaller multi-unit buildings, such as those with three stories or less, and larger multi-unit buildings, such as those with four stories or more, or with a centralized heating system.

The Residential Coordinated Delivery initiative creates greater flexibility for customized paths for larger or more complex multi-unit buildings, with custom incentives and savings methodologies that allow program administrators to best capture the unique opportunities of larger and mixed-use multi-family structures. Using a more customized approach for the complex multi-unit properties also allows program administrators to provide property owners with a tailored business case that makes energy efficiency upgrades for residents an easier decision. This comprehensive initiative offers energy assessments that identify all cost-effective efficiency improvement or replacement opportunities regardless of fuel source for market rate properties with four or more dwellings. Utilizing a “whole facility” approach, the assessments focus on a facility's thermal envelope (shell insulation and air leakage conditions) as well as lighting and mechanical systems.

The program also assesses in-unit savings potential for tenants. Improvements that may be eligible for incentives include lighting upgrades/controls, occupancy sensors, water heating equipment, domestic hot water measures, programmable thermostats, insulation, air sealing, heating and cooling equipment upgrades/controls, ENERGY STAR appliances and other improvements as determined on a site-specific basis. Eligible measures for the program include insulation, air sealing, light fixtures, and hot water and heating equipment, as well as heating and cooling equipment, air compressors, and energy management systems.

In 2019, Eversource saved 17,977 MWh from its multifamily programs, while spending $16,845,601 and served 13,900 housing units. Savings, spending, and customer data was not available for National Grid.

Last Updated: July 2021

Provision of Energy Data by UtilitiesList All

Eversource and National Grid both provide automated benchmarking services to building owners. Eversource supports customer use of the Portfolio Manager platform, including assisting customers with collecting proper data and entering facility information, including the creation of ‘virtual meters’ within the tool to create whole-building data views. Eversource has automated systems in place for aggregating multitenant/multifamily buildings in Eastern Massachusetts to support the Building Energy Reporting Disclosure Ordinance in Boston and the Building Energy Use Disclosure Ordinance in Cambridge. For customers outside of Boston and Cambridge, the utility supports customer use of the Portfolio Manager platform, including assisting customers with collecting proper data and entering facility information, including the creation of ‘virtual meters’ within the tool to create whole-building data views. National Grid provides technical assistance for ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, which includes assistance collecting proper data and entering in facility information.

Boston collects and shares data on electricity and natural gas consumption for residential, commercial, and municipal buildings/infrastructure available for the past five years through their Greenhouse Gas and Energy Inventory Page. The city also provides community wide energy usage information for planning and evaluation purposes through their Community Choice Electricity (CCE) municipal program. Through the City of Boston Municipal Aggregation program (Community Choice Electricity). Boston will have access to the electricity consumption of 200,000+ residential, commercial, industrial, and public sector customers beginning in March 2020 (received monthly). This data can and will be used for community planning and the evaluation of future public awareness and energy investment decisions.

The City of Boston actively advocates for policies requiring utilities to expand the availability and granularity of energy usage data through its membership with the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, which has a seat on the Energy Efficiency Advisory Council, and through requests to the state legislature.

Last Updated: July 2021

Decarbonization and Climate Change Mitigation Efforts of Cities and Energy UtilitiesList All

Utilities Climate Mitigation Goal

In 2019, Eversource Energy set a company-wide goal to reach carbon neutrality by 2030. To achieve this goal, Eversource Energy will need to reduce emissions by 9.09% annually from 2019 levels.

City-Led Efforts to Decarbonize the Electric Grid

Through Boston’s Municipal Aggregation, the city aims to spur the development of more local solar generating facilities and community share solar under the Massachusetts Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) program. The first municipal aggregation contract lasts from February through November 2020, and the city is currently working on the Request for Quote (RFQ) process for the 2nd contract. The city is offering three products to ratepayers in Boston including one 100% MA Class I Renewable Energy Certificate option.

The City has also submitted comments in Public Utility Commission proceedings and Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources rulemakings related to renewable energy on several occasions, including on the Massachusetts Clean Peak Standard, SMART program, and the Single Parcel Rule. In addition, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center is partnering with the City of Boston to install a solar and energy storage system at the Boston Fire Department training facility on Moon Island.

Clean Distributed Energy Resources 

Through Boston Planning and Development Agency’s (BPDA) Smart Utilities Policy for Article 80 Development Review, developments over 1.5 million square feet are required to develop a Feasibility Assessment to determine the viability of district energy microgrids and combined heat and power for their project site. When deemed economically and technically feasible, developments must prepare a District Energy Master Plan to coordinate system deployment with the development schedule. Systems are expected to optimize emissions reductions, resilience, and energy cost reductions.  

Additionally, as part of Article 37 of the Boston Zoning Code, developers must submit a carbon-neutral building assessment, which includes an assessment of the feasibility of on-site solar and storage. However, these measures did not earn Boston points due to scoring methodology changes. 

Municipal Renewable Energy Procurement 

The City of Boston generated 480 MWh of on-site solar electricity at three municipal sites in 2021. This generating capacity is owned and operated by ESCO: Honeywell. 

City Renewable Energy Incentive and Financing Programs 

Massachusetts passed commercial PACE-enabling legislation for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.  

Last Updated: September 2023

Efficiency Efforts in Water ServicesList All

Citywide Water Efficiency and Goals

The Boston Water and Sewer Commission (BWSC) and Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) fund water efficiency programs available to all water customers. While BWSC does not directly issue rebates and incentives under the MassSave program, Boston’s energy utilities—National Grid and Eversource Energy—do offer rebates and incentives for water saving technologies. Notably, Boston customers are offered no-cost water-efficiency kits that include kitchen and bathroom faucet aerators, low-flow replacement showerheads, water-efficiency gauges to test showerheads and sinks, and dye tablets to check for toilet leaks. Water demand in the MWRA territory has decreased by nearly a third since the 1980s, in part through efficiency initiatives.

Although no community-wide water savings target have been adopted by the city or its utilities, the MWRA has a comprehensive, long-term strategy for water savings as described in their 2013 Water System Master Plan. This plan was updated in 2018.

Water Plant Efficiency and Self-Generation

MWRA has completed energy audits at 33 of its 36 major facilities. Audit recommendations and other process optimization efforts are estimated to save almost $2 million annually as part of the Long-Term Sustainability Program. MWRA continues to reduce its electrical demand by optimizing process operations and renewable generation—including wind, solar, hydroelectric and biogas—and implementation of energy efficiency measures. Over the past 5 years, the utility has achieved a reduction of over 10% or a total of 18M kWh. Recently, MWRA entered into a memorandum of agreement with Eversource and National Grid to identify and implement energy efficiency opportunities throughout MWRA's day-to-day operations and construction programs and to achieve higher rebates from the utilities for implementing energy efficiency projects. MWRA also calls out Environmental Sustainability as a key strategic priority in its Five-Year Strategic Business Plan for FY 2016–2020. These initiatives include continuing to audit all facilities on their regular audit schedule, optimization of processes, cost effective renewable energy deployments, continued maximization of GHG reductions and fully leveraging all available utility rebates and incentives for energy efficiency. This webpage documents renewable and sustainable energy initiatives at the local wastewater treatment plant.

MWRA produces electricity with steam turbine generators using methane gas from digesters, two wind turbines, solar arrays, and hydroelectric assets at the Deer Island treatment plant. In 2020, MRWA self-generated 35.4 million kWh from these resources.

Last Updated: July 2021

Local Government Score:
7.5 out of 10 points
Local Government Climate and Energy Goals List All

The City of Boston’s Imagine Boston 2030 plan outlines goals the entire city, including the local government, must realize.

Climate Mitigation Goal

Boston established a goal to achieve carbon-neutrality by 2050. The city's 2019 Climate Action Plan Update establishes a goal of reducing emissions from municipal operations by 60% below 2005 levels by 2030. To meet this goal, Boston must reduce per capita emissions by 4.19% annually. ACEEE projects that the city will meet its GHG emissions reduction goal for local government operations.

Energy Reduction Goal

The City of Boston participates in the Better Buildings Challenge to achieve an energy use reduction of 20% below 2010 levels by 2023 in municipal buildings. To maintain its Massachusetts Green Community designation, Boston is required to reduce municipal energy use by 20% within five years of earning the designation.

Renewable Energy Goal

We did not find information regarding a quantitative municipal renewable energy goal. The 2019 Climate Action Plan Update states the general intention to invest in renewable energy generation in municipal buildings.

Last updated: May 2021

Procurement and Construction Policies List All

Fleet Policies and Composition

Boston has released a Zero Emission Vehicle Roadmap, adopting new goals and strategies to support vehicle electrification. The Roadmap presents a goal that 100% light-duty vehicles be emissions-free by 2035, 100% of medium-duty vehicles by 2050, and 100% of heavy-duty vehicles by 2060. Boston also has established a motor pool, FleetHub, using car-sharing technology, allowing the city to reduce the fleet size and maximize the use of existing stock. Additionally, Boston Public Schools has made significant efforts to increase school bus routing efficiency and replace the oldest, least efficient diesel school buses with cleaner propane vehicles. Collectively, these efforts have led to 2,650,824 fewer miles driven by Boston Public School diesel buses. Boston’s fleet is composed of 18% efficient vehicles, including hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and battery electric vehicles. 

Public Lighting

The Streetlight Division of the Public Works Department maintains streetlights across Boston. Thousands of these streetlights are "dark-sky friendly" meaning that 95% of the light shoots down instead of up in the sky and they have 1,600 control boxes that help adjust the outdoor lighting. In addition, Lights Out Boston is a voluntary program under which participating building owners agree to turn off or dim all architectural lighting between 11 pm and 5 am during the fall migratory bird season. Smart Streetlights is an infrastructure project to increase safety and energy savings by installing technologies capable of reducing carbon emissions and operational costs, heat and pollution sensors, and intelligent and adaptable lighting. There are 70,992 streetlights in Boston; since 2010 the City of Boston has been converting streetlights to LED technology. As of August 2023, 86% of Boston's streetlights are LED.

Inclusive procurement 

The City of Boston has inclusive procurement contract processes. The City of Boston will make it a goal to utilize at least 25% minority- and women-owned businesses across all contracts awarded in any fiscal year, with a goal of 15% utilization for woman-owned businesses and a goal of 10% utilization for minority-owned businesses. Under the Executive Order, all City Departments procuring goods or services must consult with the Certified Business Directory and identify at least one certified business that is minority or women owned that customarily performs or supplies the relevant work to include as part of the solicitation process for each of its procurements. To ensure that departments are complying with the Executive Order, they are required to fill out an Equitable Procurement Form to certify that they consulted with the Directory and to document whether they identified a certified business in the industry from which they are seeking to procure a good or service. Departments must submit one form for every procurement that they intend to issue. They have applied these processes to all projects, including energy projects. In 2020, Boston released a disparity study conducted by BBC Research & Consulting. Companies that are working with the City of Boston must meet certain standards that make sure companies are giving residents with a criminal record a fair chance of getting hired.

Last updated: September 2023

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Building Benchmarking

In accordance with the 2013 Energy Reporting and Disclosure Ordinance, Boston uses Portfolio Manager to benchmark energy use in 100% of its municipal buildings. Boston makes all municipal utility billing data available through Analyze Boston, the city’s open data portal. Boston also makes real-time 5 and 15 minute interval data on the city’s largest facilities available publicly through Analyze Boston.

Comprehensive Retrofit Strategy 

The city’s integrated energy management plan, developed in 2004, laid out a retrofit plan for Boston’s top ten municipal energy users, and the plan is currently being implemented. Boston secured nearly $10 million in commitments from Eversource and National Grid to support the acquisition and installation of energy efficiency measures in city properties. In August 2014, the City announced completion of a $66.7 million energy efficiency rehabilitation of 13 public housing properties owned by the Boston Housing Authority (BHA). The work completed by project contractor, Ameresco, includes millions of dollars in energy savings, capital upgrades to BHA’s public housing portfolio, and the first-in-the-nation, public housing project-labor agreement, which provided an opportunity for BHA residents to embark on careers in the building trades through the Building Pathways Program. Based on the BHA success, the City developed an energy efficiency project finance program, called the Renew Boston Trust, which replicates field-proven finance models for municipal, housing, commercial and institutional sectors. Renew Boston Trust has completed the audit of its Pilot Phase buildings and has selected approximately $10 million in work for 14 buildings.  The ECMs will result in guaranteed annual savings of approximately 2,700,00 kWh of electricity, 49,000 Therms of natural gas, 2,500 k/gal of water, and 4,500 Mlbs of steam.  In addition, the city is installing renewable generation which is guaranteed to produce at least 335,000 kWh/yr.

Last updated: May 2021