State and Local Policy Database

Boston

City Scorecard Rank

2

Boston, MA

73.00Scored out of 100Updated 10/2020
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 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 14.9% efficient vehicles, including hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and battery electric vehicles.  

Public Lighting

Boston has not yet adopted a policy requiring efficient outdoor lighting, such as the International Dark-Sky Association’s Model Lighting Ordinance. However, the Energy Reduction Plan specifies a 40% reduction goal for energy use of streetlights in the city. The City of Boston is currently retrofitting its mercury and sodium vapor lighting to LED luminaires. To date, 76.3% of the City’s 64,000 electric streetlights have been retrofitted. The Public Works Department has installed photocells on streetlights as well. Between 2019 and 2020, streetlight electricity consumption dropped 3%. The city's goal is to replace all of its streetlights with LEDs over the next few years.

Onsite and offsite renewable systems 

Through the Renew Boston Trust, the City has installed solar systems on municipal facilities through a performance contract.

Inclusive procurement 

The city’s Resident Jobs Policy includes workforce procurement policies for development projects, which may include renewable energy. Former Mayor Marty Walsh signed an Executive Order Establishing Equitable Procurement Goals in Support of Women and Minority-Owned Businesses in February 2021. The EO established aspirational goals of 25% minority and woman-owned business enterprise utilization on discretionary contract and procurement spending with an overall annual aspirational goal of 15% utilization for WBEs and 10% for MBEs. These policies are being applied to an energy savings performance contract to upgrade the city's streetlights and controls, which includes evaluation based on minority and women-owned business hiring goals.

Last updated: May 2021

Asset Management List All

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 publically 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

Community-Wide Initiatives
Score: 8.5 out of 15 points
Community-Wide Summary List All

The City of Boston established several energy efficiency and renewable energy strategies as part of its Greenovate Boston plan. The city most recently updated the plan in 2014. The city also recently updated its climate mitigation goals as part of its Imagine Boston 2030 citywide plan.

Last updated: September 2021

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 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 Reduction Goal

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

Renewable Energy Goal

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

Last updated: September 2021

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

Equity-Driven Community Engagement

We were unable to determine whether relevant decision-makers have taken a unique and expanded approach in conducting community engagement for multiple clean energy initiatives with marginalized groups compared to engagement with other city constituencies.

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 marginalized residents.

Last updated: September 2021

Clean Distributed Energy SystemsList 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: September 2021

Mitigation of Urban Heat Islands List All

UHI Mitigation Goal

We could not find information on an active urban heat island mitigation goal. In fiscal year 2021, the city will invest $500,000 for urban forestry and increase the annual street trees capital project by $1 million.

UHI 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'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. 

Last updated: September 2021

Buildings Policies
Score: 19 out of 30 points
Buildings Summary List All

Boston has several building sector initiatives to improve efficiency including a “stretch” energy code, energy savings goals, green building requirements, and benchmarking and disclosure. The city's Building Energy Reporting and Disclosure Ordinance (BERDO) sets benchmarking and auditing requirements for large commercial and multifamily buildings. The city also has several clearn energy workforce development programs. 

Last updated: June 2021

Building Energy Code AdoptionList All

Overview

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

Commercial buildings must comply with the Massachusetts Stretch Energy Code. The city’s zEPI score for their commercial energy code is 42.2

Residential

Residential buildings must comply with the Massachusetts Stretch Energy Code. The city’s zEPI score for their residential energy code is 48.7.

Solar-readiness policies 

Massachusetts's Board of Building Regulations and Standards adopted solar-ready requirements for all new residential and commercial buildings 5 stories and under.

EV-charging readiness and infrastructure policies

The City of Boston’s EV Policy requires 5% of parking spaces to host electric vehicles chargers and requires an additional 10% to be EV-ready. 

Boston's EV-Readiness Policy for New Developments requires large development projects to install electric vehicle supply equipment in 25% of total parking spaces and the remaing 75% of spaces must be EV-ready. 

Low-energy use requirements 

Since 2007, Article 37 of Boston’s municipal zoning code requires that all new commercial and multifamily buildings over 50,000 sq ft. meet the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED certification standards. 

Last updated: June 2021

Building Energy Code Enforcement and ComplianceList All

Boston employs 46 fulltime building inspectors within the Inspectional Services Department that have received training on the state stretch code, but it does not have staff solely dedicated to energy code enforcement. According to the Code, all new residential development and redevelopment are required to conduct a blower door test or adhere to the prescriptive method included in the code. Additionally, all new commercial developments and redevelopments are required to adhere to the latest ASHRAE 90.1 standards. Massachusetts’s Department of Energy Resources administers the Mass Save Program, which offers education and training on the state’s stretch-code, as well as in-person and online support.

Last updated: June 2021

Policies Targeting Existing BuildingsList All

Commercial and multifamily benchmarking

In April 2013, the city council adopted the Building Energy Reporting and Disclosure Ordinance (BERDO). The ordinance requires owners of commercial buildings (35,000+ square feet) and multifamily buildings (35+ units or 35,000+ square feet) to report their energy and water annually. The city publicly discloses the building-level energy use information on their website annually. The city provides guidance to help owners comply. The policy has achieved a compliance rate of 82% in 2018. 

Cross-cutting requirements

The city's Building Energy Reporting and Disclosure Ordinance (BERDO) includes an Energy Action and Assessment requirement.  Large residential and commercial buildings have three main compliance pathways: reduce their emissions or energy usage by 15% or more, be certified as a highly efficient building through ENERGY STAR, or else perform an energy audit. Exemptions exist for high-efficiency buildings.

Incentives

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. Boston is currently developing guidelines to allow financing to begin in 2019.

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. In September 2020, Mayor Marty Walsh announced that the city would be doubling te ammount of funding available through the senior saves program. 

Boston Housing Authority (BHA) partnered with the Action for Boston Community Development to install energy efficient equipment and materials in BHA’s public housing developments, ultimately saving $24 million in energy costs.  

Voluntary programs

The E+ Green Building program requires buildings generate more energy than it uses. The program 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 project and two active projects. 

Boston used to implement the Mayor’s Carbon Cup is a voluntary commitment open to the largest building owners and operators in Boston. These owners and operators with 1 million square feet or more in their portfolio can commit to exceeding the Citywide carbon reduction goal by achieving 35% reduction from 2005 levels by 2020. The program is no long active. 

Last updated: June 2021

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Workforce DevelopmentList All

With support from Eversource and National Grid, Boston’s Department of Environment runs the Building Operations Certification (BOC) pilot program. The program has offered an opportunity for workers to enroll in 74 hours of training and earn BOC certification tuition-free.

Boston Housing Authority (BHA) signed a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) with Ameresco and the Building and Constructions Trades Council for the completion of $66.7 million in energy efficiency improvements for public housing properties. The PLA created more than 600 jobs, including for public housing residents.

The City has also engaged with the Emerald Cities Collaborative (ECC) and Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) to host an annual Contractor Academy for WMBEs in the Boston area. This course teaches small business owners how to contract with public entities like the City and we know that at least one of the graduates of that program went on to win a contract to perform high efficiency heat pump upgrade work at a Parks Department facility which will also decarbonize the facility by replacing the primary source of heat from fuel oil to electricity. 

Boston's Metropolitan Area Planning Council partnered with the Solar Foundation to faciliate solar training for building inspectors from Boston and the surrounding metropolitan area.  

Last updated: June 2021

Energy & Water Utilities
Score: 13.5 out of 15 points
Energy & Water Utilities 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

Electric & Gas Energy Efficiency Programs and 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

Renewable Energy Efforts of 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.

Last Updated: July 2021

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

Transportation
Score: 22.5 out of 30 points
Transportation Summary List All

The transportation authority serving the City of Boston is the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, a state agency. MBTA also provides the public transportation for the city and the broader metropolitan area, including train, bus, light rail, and ferry service. The Boston Region Metro Planning Organization is the MPO in charge of conducting metropolitan transportation planning. Its area of jurisdiction encompasses Boston, and many surrounding cities and towns. The Boston Transportation Department is the city agency charged with managing the city’s transportation network. 

Last updated: January 2017

Sustainable Transportation Planning List All

Sustainable Transportation Plan

Go Boston 2030, released in 2017, adopted the 2014 Climate Action Plan goal of reducing regional vehicle miles traveled by 5.5% below 2005 levels by 2020, or from 3.1 billion VMT in 2013 to 2.9 billion VMT in 2020. Boston will support low-emission and shared alternatives for regional travel into Boston to reduce the projected proportion of people traveling into Boston in private vehicles. Boston also works proactively with surrounding communities to enhance regional transit and bike connections and build new stations connecting to Boston’s growing job areas. Projects include initiatives like expanded demand management programs, bus rapid transit and performance-based meter pricing, as well as 16 regional projects and policies.

VMT/GHG Target and Stringency

Boston has a goal to reduce transportation-related GHG emissions by 50% by 2030 from 2005 levels . This 50 % goal by 2030 requires a reduction of 2.0% per year. For reference, see page 75 of Go Boston 2030.

Progress Achieved Toward VMT/GHG Targets

Boston’s transportation GHG emissions decreased by 3% from 2005 to 2016. This decrease has occurred, even as Boston’s population has grown by 29% and the number of jobs has increased by 25%.

Last Updated: March 2020

Location Efficiency List All

Location Efficient Zoning Codes

Articles 87 and 87a of Boston’s zoning code include smart growth overlays to promote compact, mixed-use communities in specific neighborhoods. Article 37 of the zoning code also encourages buildings subject to Large Project Review to integrate transportation demand management measures. Article 80 is a citywide zoning requirement that requires that new developments generate transportation access plan agreements with the Boston Transportation Department.

Residential Parking Policies

Boston has one or more neighborhoods with 0.5 required parking spaces. In downtown districts, “parking freezes” go into effect. Boston has removed minimum parking requirements for the entire city for large projects (those larger than 50,000 sqft subject to Article 80 review) and set parking maxima. The City is reviewing and, in some cases, reducing guidelines for maximum area/parking ratios for new developments in some zones of Boston.

Location Efficiency Incentives and Disclosure

The City encourages dense mixed-use development through density bonuses for greener buildings, affordable housing, and transit-oriented development by way of Article 80. The City of Boston is also implementing a two-year pilot of a Compact Living Policy, under which the City is allowing new buildings to include small, efficient housing units as long as they meet certain requirements. 

Last Updated: March 2020

Mode Shift List All

Mode Shift Targets

Go Boston 2030, Boston’s long-term transportation plan, set aspirational mode shift targets:

  • Increase public transit by a third from 34%
  • Increase walking by almost a half from 14%
  • Increase biking fourfold from 2%
  • Decrease carpooling marginally from 6%
  • Decrease drive alone by half from 39%
  • Increase work from home slightly from 5%

Progress Achieved Toward Mode Shift Targets

According to the 2017 1-yr American Community Survey, drive alone travel has decreased by 1.2%, carpool has increased by 0.4%, and public transportation has increased by 1.1%.

Complete Streets

Boston adopted its Complete Streets Guidelines in 2009. The adoption of the guidelines encourages the inclusion of complete streets principles in all road construction and maintenance projects.

Car Sharing

There are two car sharing programs currently available to the residents and visitors of Boston, Enterprise Carshare, and zipcar. DriveBoston is the City’s program to provide parking spaces in municipal lots and on City streets for carshare vehicles. In the pilot phase of the program, 80 spaces have been be distributed throughout the City. The pilot phase began in the fall of 2015 for a period of 18 months. During this phase, there were 49 spaces in municipal lots and 31 spaces reserved curbside. During the 18-month initial pilot phase more than 1 million miles were traveled by DriveBoston vehicles. 

Car share in Boston was launched as a pilot program in 2015 under the name DriveBoston. DriveBoston is a partnership between car share operators and the City, where the City issues licenses to car share operators to locate shared vehicles on municipal lots and City owned on-street spaces. During the pilot phase the program included 80 parking spaces divided between Zipcar and Enterprise Car Share. Enterprise Car Share went out of business one year into the pilot leaving Zipcar to operate 40 spaces for the remaining three years. Following a successful pilot where the program had more than one million miles traveled in 18 months, and utilization rates as high as 50% in some locations, the program was expanded in 2019 to 205 spaces, 64 spaces in Municipal Lots and 141 on-street. The City collects license fees of $3,500 per space per year in the Downtown and Seaport areas, and $2,700 per space per year in all other areas. DriveBoston helps meet the City's goal outlined in Go Boston 2030 of ensuring that 'Every home in Boston will be within a 10 minute walk of a rail station or key bus routestop, Hubway station, and carshare.

Bike Sharing

The City of Boston and four neighboring municipalities jointly own and manage Blue Bikes, a docked bike share with 325 stations and 3000 bikes. In the last two years, the City of Boston has purchased an addtional 100 stations and 1700 bikes. In total, the City has deployed 220 stations and 2300 bikes. Several more stations are awaiting final permitting.

Last Updated: March 2020

Transit List All

Transportation Funding

The MBTA and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation that service Boston have received $2,520,850,950 on average annually between 2014 and 2018. That equates to roughly $517.06 per capita between 2014 and 2018 within the Authority's service area. 

Access to Transit Services

The Transit Connectivity Index measures transit service levels. It is based on the number of bus routes and train stations within walking distance for households scaled by frequency of service. The City of Boston's Transit Connectivity Index value is 9.3, scoring 2 points in the City Scorecard.

Last Updated: March 2020

Efficient VehiclesList All

Vehicle Purchase Incentives

In addition to federal incentives for EVs, if customers purchase a plug-in hybrid (PEV) or electric vehicle (EV), they may be eligible for a rebate of up to $2,500 through the Massachusetts Offers Rebates for Electric Vehicles (MOREV) program. As part of the VW settlement, MassDEP provides grants to enable the purchase of high efficiency vehicles. Eversource is joining Nissan to offer customers a $5,000 rebate off the MSRP toward the purchase of a new 2018 Nissan LEAF through January 2. To take advantage of the offer, Eversource customers need to bring the promotional flyer and a recent Eversource electric bill to a participating Nissan dealer.

Vehicle Infrastructure Incentives

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) provides the Massachusetts Electric Vehicle Incentive Program (MassEVIP) Workplace Charging, which is an open grant program that provides incentives to employers for the acquisition of Level 1 and Level 2 electric vehicle (EV) charging stations. Additionally, the Transportation Access Plan Agreements requires that all new commercial and residential buildings include stipulations that 5% of parking in must have an EV charging station.

The City of Boston requires that 25% of off-street parking being developed within the parking freeze or undergoing Article 80 review be equipped with EV charging, and that the remaining 75% be EV-ready to the greatest extent possible.

The 2019 mayoral agenda includes a TNC measure that would provide financial incentives for zero-emission vehicles such as EVs, with a reduced per-mile fee or exemption in some cases.

The Massachusetts Offers Rebates for Electric Vehicles (MOR-EV) program issues rebates up to $1,500 for the purchase or lease of battery EVs and up to $450 for zero emission motorcycles.

EV Charging Locations

The City has 113 charging stations available for public use, equivalent to 16.269 stations per 100,000 people.

Renewable Charging Incentives

At this time, the City of Boston does not have incentives or requirements available for the installation of private or public EV charging infrastructure powered by renewable energy (solar, wind, etc.).

Last Updated: March 2020

Freight System EfficiencyList All

Boston does not have a sustainable freight transportation plan in place, nor does it have any policies that address freight efficiency.

Last Updated: March 2020

Clean, Efficient Transportation for Low-Income CommunitiesList All

Affordable New TOD Housing Policy

Boston has an Inclusionary Development Policy (IDP) to preserve access to affordable housing opportunities in transit-served areas in all of Boston’s neighborhoods. Developers may include affordable units within their developments, create affordable housing in an off-site location, or make a cash contribution towards the creation or preservation of affordable housing. Boston also has site-specific transit-oriented development for mixed-income housing with built-in higher sustainability requirements. This is part of E+, which builds upon Boston’s Article 37 Green Building Zoning and the city’s Green Affordable Housing Guidelines.

Connecting Existing Affordable Housing Stock to Efficient Transportation Options

Income-eligible people can use Blue Bikes, the City’s public bike-sharing system, for $50 a year, or $5 a month with no annual commitment. The membership includes unlimited one-hour trips. The MBTA offers discounted/reduced fares for seniors, people with disabilities, middle and high school students, and low-income young adults. People who are visually impaired/blind ride for free.

Last Updated: March 2020