State and Local Policy Database


City Scorecard Rank


Boston, MA

77.50Scored out of 100Updated 8/2019
Local Government Score:
7.5 out of 9 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. Page 342 of the Imagine Boston 2030 plan sets interim reduction goals of 25% by 2020 and 50% by 2030. To meet this goal, Boston must reduce per capita emissions by 3.82% annually. The city is on track to meet its climate mitigation goals.

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.

Renewable Energy Goal

We did not find information regarding a quantitative municipal renewable energy goal. Action 1.74 of the 2014 Climate Action Plan states the general intention to increase municipal consumption of renewable, combined heat and power, and district energy services.

Last updated: June 2019

Procurement and Construction List All

Fleet Policies and Composition

The 2007 executive order on climate action required that municipal departments purchase hybrid, alternative-fueled, or high-efficiency vehicles whenever possible; new motor vehicles shall be the most fuel-efficient within their vehicle class. 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 7.3% 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 street lights have been retrofitted, resulting in 35.6 million kWh in annual electriCity savings. The city's goal is to replace all of its streetlights with LEDs over the next few years.

Green Building Requirements 

The 2007 executive order directed that all new municipal buildings must be LEED Silver Certified, and new and renovated buildings must exceed LEED energy standards by 14 and 7 percent, respectively. Projects funded by the city under the Department of Neighborhood Development’s Green Affordable Housing Program must also meet the LEED Silver standards. 

Last updated: June 2019

Asset Management List All

Building Benchmarking and Retrofitting

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.

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 and will begin a 14 month implementation in early 2019.  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.

Public Workforce Commuting

We did not find information on a policy aimed at reducing commutes of city employees, such as flexible schedules or telework.

Last updated: June 2019

Community-Wide Initiatives
Score: 9.5 out of 16 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: June 2019

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 does not currently project the city will achieve its 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

Boston’s Greenovate Boston plan established a 2020 goal of 10MW of commercial solar and to increase energy use from co-generation to 15%.

Energy Data Reporting

The city releases raw community-wide energy data on its Analyze Boston webpage.

Last updated: June 2019

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

Equity-Driven Community Engagement

We were unable to determine whether permanent city staff have taken a unique and expanded approach in conducting outreach for multiple clean energy initiatives to marginalized groups compared to outreach to other city constituencies.

While not involving a direct dialogue between permanent city staff and residents, the city's 2019 Climate Action Plan Update has 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) will be conducting 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.

Accountability to Equity

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: June 2019

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.

The city also amended its zoning code to allow for the installation of wind energy facilities.

Last updated: June 2019

Mitigation of Urban Heat Islands List All

Mayor Thomas Menino created the Grow Boston Greener (now Greenovate Boston) program with the goal of planting 100,000 new trees in Boston by 2020 and increasing tree canopy coverage to 35%.

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.

Last updated: June 2019

Buildings Policies
Score: 25.5 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 Inspectional Services Department manages building energy code compliance and enforcement for the City of Boston, while many of the other building energy policies are managed by the Office of Environment.

Last updated: March 2019

Building Energy Code AdoptionList All


Massachusetts law requires statewide adoption of each new International Energy Conservation Code edition within one year of its publication. Massachusetts adopted the 2015 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 Massachusetss Stretch Energy Code. The city’s zEPI score for their commercial energy code is 49.8.


Residential buildings must comply with the Massachusetss Stretch Energy Code. The city’s zEPI score for their residential energy code is 48.9.

Solar- and EV-ready

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

Last updated: May 2019

Building Energy Code Enforcement and ComplianceList All

Boston employs 25 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: March 2019

Benchmarking, Rating, & Transparency List All

Commercial and multifamily

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. BERDO covers 86% of both commercial and multifamily buildings within the city. The policy has achieved a compliance rate of 90%. 


The city has not adopted a single-family benchmarking and disclosure policy.

Last updated: June 2019

Incentives and Financing for Efficient Buildings and Renewable EnergyList All

Boston offers seven incentives and financing options for energy efficiency, solar, and low-income programs.

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. The E+ Green Building program requires buildings generate more energy than it uses. The E+ program requires some units to be designated as affordable housing. 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.  

Please note that each incentive/program is tallied based on the building types and energy resources eligible for award. For example, a PACE financing program that offers energy efficiency and renewable energy financing to both residential and commercial property owners is counted as four incentives.

Last updated: March 2019

Required Energy ActionsList All

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. As part of Article 37 Green Building and Climate Resiliency Guidelines, large commercial developers are asked to detail how they plan to prepare for climate change and how their buildings will work towards the city’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2050. The city uses a checklist to discuss these points with developers and encourage increased levels of efficiency and renewable generation on-site. 

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.

Boston also has a voluntary effort. 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.

Last updated: May 2019

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.

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. The city's Resident Jobs Policy includes inclusive workforce procurement policies for development projects, which may include renewable energy. 

Last updated: May 2019

Energy & Water Utilities
Score: 12.5 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. 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: March 2019

Electric & Gas Energy Efficiency Programs and SavingsList All

In 2017, Eversource reported a net incremental electricity savings of 706,920 MWh, representing 3.46% of its retail sales. In the same year, National Grid reported 16.42 MMTherms in net incremental gas savings, representing 2.10% of its annual retail sales. 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. Renew Boston promotes energy efficient choices and informs Boston residents and businesses about utility-sponsored energy efficiency services. Through its community-centric outreach and education, Renew Boston helps ensure that the City's diverse homes and businesses are connected to available energy efficiency programs and incentives. Eversource continues to lend the City a manager that aids the City with energy efficiency project uptake and implementation. Moreover, the City and utilities are partnering on a joint marketing effort to increase residential home energy efficiency activities in Boston’s low- and middle-income neighborhoods, with a focus on increasing home energy audits, weatherization, and heating system upgrades.

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). The Massachusetts Green Communities Act of 2008 created the EEAC to assist in the development and implementation of the statewide gas and electric utility energy efficiency plans. These plans set three-year targets for electricity and natural gas savings. The EEAC did not include representation from Massachusetts' municipal governments until Boston advocated for the addition of a voting seat for an individual representing "a city or town of the Commonwealth" through An Act Relative to Competitively Priced Electricity in the Commonwealth. That seat is currently represented by a City of Boston staff member.

Greenovate Boston is a city-led initiative to involve all Bostonian’s in Boston’s Climate Action plan. Residents in one- to four-unit homes can connect through the program with Mass Save for program incentives. Greenovate staff host workshops with residents, offer energy efficiency tips, and sign households directly up for energy audits. They offer promotional materials in numerous languages and engage with renters. 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.

Last Updated: March 2019

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, both Eversource and National Grid participate in the dual fuel Low-Income Single Family Core Initiative and Multifamily Initiative, which are available to qualified low-income residential customers. The single-family program provides no-cost energy efficiency measures to residential customers living in one- to four-unit dwellings in which at least 50% of the occupants have incomes at or below 60% of the state median income. Eligible measures for this program include insulation, air sealing, repairing or replacing heating systems, health and safety wares, water efficiency measures, and lighting fixtures.

The program targets high energy users and elderly households and also streamlines eligibility requirements by automatically enrolling customers on the discount rate or who receive LIHEAP funds. 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 a Multifamily Advisory Committee that provide guidance on low-income utility-sponsored programs in the state.

In 2017, according to Eversource, it achieved 22,047 MWh in energy savings from its low-income programs and served 21,716 low-income customers. In 2017, National Grid achieved 1.29 MMtherms in energy savings from its low-income programs and served 6,795 households.

Multifamily Programs

Both Eversource and National Grid offer their core multifamily initiative called the Multi-Family Buildings Program. This comprehensive program offers multifamily energy assessments that identify cost-effective efficiency improvement or replacement opportunities 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. Additionally, these utilities offer the Low Income Multi-Family Energy Retrofits Program. This program provides eligible projects the use of an online tool to benchmark a development/building’s energy use for one year, two building assessments to identify energy-saving opportunities (including electrical and heating audits, and installation of eligible cost-effective energy conservation measures.

Eversource and National Grid also offer the Multi-Family Retrofit program, which offers multifamily energy assessments that identify all energy efficiency opportunities regardless of fuel source. The program focuses on multi-family dwellings with 5 or more units on a property. The program also addresses problems associated with mixed-use buildings. 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 2017, Eversource saved 23,495 MWh from its multifamily programs while serving 26,510 households. National Grid saved 1.15 MMtherms while serving 9,252 households. These savings numbers and households served are not mutually exclusive and do overlap with the low-income savings numbers reported previously.

Last Updated: March 2019

Provision of Energy Data by UtilitiesList All

Eversource and National Grid both provide technical assistance for ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, which includes assistance collecting proper data and entering in facility information. The City further provides how-to guides, instructional videos, and access to a help-desk through the BERDO web portal. This includes a tenant authorization form to ensure building owners are able to gain access to the aggregate energy consumption for their building.

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, the City of Boston actively advocates for polices requiring utilities to expand the availability and granularity of energy usage data.

Last Updated: March 2019

Renewable Energy Efforts of Energy UtilitiesList All

Renewable Energy Incentives

In 2017, Eversource did not provide renewable energy incentives for the construction of new distributed solar or wind systems.

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. Boston is still in the process of selecting a vendor and negotiating a contract, but this bid event specifically asks for proposals on how to achieve “additionality” through the construction of new renewable generating facilities. In addition, the Renew Boston partnership includes efforts to increase renewable energy adoption in Boston.

The City has also submitted comments in Public Utiltiy 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: April 2019

Efficiency Efforts in Water ServicesList All

City-wide 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.

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, they have achieved a reduction of over 10% or a total of 18M kWh. Recently, MWRA entered into a memorandum of agreement with Eversource to identify and implement energy efficiency opportunities throughout MWRA's day-to-day operations and construction programs, and also to achieve higher rebates from the utility for implementing energy efficiency projects. MWRA also calls out Environmental Sustainability as a key strategic priority in their 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. Finally, MWRA self-generates approximately 33 million kWh/year from methane capture at the Deer Island wastewater treatment plant.

Last Updated: March 2019

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.

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: May 2019

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.

Last Updated: May 2019

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.

Bike Sharing

Bluebikes (formerly Hubway) has approximately 1,800 bikes in service with over 200 stations throughout Boston and 3 neighboring municipalities.

Last Updated: May 2019

Transit List All

Transportation Funding

The MBTA transit system that serves Boston has received $1,047,022,892.40 in average annual funding from 2013-2017. This funding level is $219.41 per resident in the service territory of the agency, putting the city in the highest category ($150 or more) available in transit funding.

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 9.4, putting it in the highest category (9 or larger) available in the City Scorecard.

Last Updated: March 2019

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.

EV Charging Locations

The City has 300 charging stations available for public use, equivalent to 58.39 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: May 2019

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 2019

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.

Low-Income Access to High Quality Transit

In the City of Boston, 43% of low-income households have access to high-quality transit.

Last Updated: April 2019