State and Local Policy Database

Worcester

City Scorecard Rank

50

Worcester, MA

26.50Scored out of 100Updated 10/2020
Local Government Score:
3 out of 10 points
Local Government Climate and Energy Goals List All

The City of Worcester adopted its Climate Action Plan in 2007. The Plan includes climate and energy actions for both the community and municipal operations. The city also released its Green Worcester Plan this year and includes a detailed list of goals, actions, and suggested funding sources.

Climate Mitigation Goal

The The Green Worcester Plan includes a net-zero greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal for municipal operations by 2030. 

Energy Reduction Goal

Worcester does not currently have an active energy reduction goal for municipal operations.

Renewable Energy Goal

The Green Worcester Plan includes a goal for 100% renewable energy for municipal facilities by 2030.

Last updated: June 2021

Procurement and Construction List All

Fleet Policies and Composition 

As part of its Green Community designation commitment, the City committed (via an internal Policy document, signed in 2010) to purchasing fuel-efficient vehicles for municipal use whenever such vehicles are commercially available and practicable. We were unable to find data on Worcester’s fleet composition. 

Public Lighting

Worcester has not adopted a policy requiring efficient outdoor lighting, such as the International Dark-Sky Association’s Model Lighting Ordinance, but the City has followed some provisions and best management practices. The City replaced lights it its public garages, parks and parking lots, and all of its streetlights (13,419) with LEDs. The latter are down-facing fixtures causing less light spill than the replaced high-pressure sodium and metal halide light fixtures. All lighting uses a program-based astrological clock to turn lights on and off within 30 minutes of dusk and dawn. Additionally, lights have photocells to turn the lights on in the event that darkness carries past astrological clock dusk and dawn times in order to maintain appropriate light levels. 

Onsite and offsite renewable systems 

Worcester has installed onsite renewables on city facilities. The current total installed capacity is 10.5 MW. The city has completed preliminary engineering efforts for additional solar arrays. 

Inclusive procurement 

We were unable to verify if the city has inclusive procurement and contracting processes.

Last updated: June 2021

Asset Management List All

Building Benchmarking 

Worcester benchmarks all municipal energy use through a MassEnergyInsight tool.

Comprehensive Retrofit Strategies

The City has been using an Energy Savings Performance Contract (ESPC) since 2010 to conduct comprehensive retrofits across its 92 buildings. From 2019 to 2020, the city's ESPC made upgrades to lighting, heating boilers, HVAC controls, and solar thermal systems, as well as other energy efficiency upgrades. The city was awared a 2019 Green Community Action Grant to complete lighting retrofits in a senior center and to replace distribution transformers in a school. In 2020, Worcester signed a Technical Energy Audit and Project Development and Energy Management Services Agreement for further energy conservation measures. 

Last updated: June 2021

Community-Wide Initiatives
Score: 1 out of 15 points
Community-Wide Summary List All

The City of Worcester adopted the Green Worcester Plan in 2021. 

Last updated: September 2021

Community-Wide Climate Mitigation and Energy GoalsList All

Climate Mitigation Goal

The city does not have a community-wide climate mitigation or greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal.

Energy Reduction Goal

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

Renewable Energy Goal

The Green Worcester Plan includes a goal to use 100% renewable energy by 2045

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 engagement for multiple clean energy initiatives with marginalized groups compared to engagement with other city constituencies.

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.

Equity Accountability Measures

We were unable to determine whether the city has adopted specific goals, metrics, or protocols to track how multiple energy, sustainability, or climate action initiatives are affecting local marginalized groups. 

Last updated: September 2021

Clean Distributed Energy SystemsList All

Worcester received a grant from the State of Massachusetts to conduct a feasibility study for a solar-plus-storage microgrids. 

Last updated: September 2021

Mitigation of Urban Heat Islands List All

UHI Mitigation Goal

The city does not have a quantitative urban heat island mitigation goal, but the Climate Action Plan acknowledges strategies to mitigate the urban heat island effect.

UHI Policies and Programs

Though it has not yet been used to inform policy or programs, the city worked with NOAA and CAPA Strategies to conduct a heat-mapping survey. The city developed a report and a heat map with the results. 

Last updated: September 2021

Buildings Policies
Score: 7.5 out of 30 points
Buildings Summary List All

The City of Worcester enforces the state’s energy codes, but has adopted a state-determined stretch code. The city has not established a comprehensive energy code compliance verification process nor adopted a mandatory benchmarking policy. Worcester does not offer incentives for energy projects. The city does not require above-code energy-saving actions

Last Updated: June 2021

Building Energy Code AdoptionList All

Overview 

The State of Massachusetts requires all buildings to be consistent with 2018 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) but grants municipalities the authority to adopt a state-determined stretch code. To learn more about Massachusetts’s required energy codes, please visit the State Policy Database.

Commercial 

Commercial properties must comply with the Massachusettes Building Energy Code. The city’s zEPI score for their commercial energy code is 44.2. 

Residential

Residential properties must comply with the 2018 IECC. The city’s zEPI score for their residential energy code is 48.9. 

Solar-readiness policies 

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

EV-charging readiness and infrastructure policies 

The city has not adopted policies requiring buildings to include EV-charging infrastructure or be EV-ready.

Low-energy Use Requirements 

We could not find information on whether the city sets low-energy use requirements for municipal or certain private buildings.

Last Updated: June 2021

Building Energy Code Enforcement and ComplianceList All

Worcester does not have any full time employees solely dedicated to energy code enforcement. The city does not require plan reviews, site inspections, nor performance testing as a means of compliance verification. The city does not offer upfront support for energy code compliance. 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: August 2021

Policies Targeting Existing BuildingsList All

We could not find information on whether the city incentivizes or requires energy-saving actions in existing buildings.

Last updated: June 2021

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Workforce DevelopmentList All

Worcester provided funding for the South Middlesex Opportunity Council's Green Jobs Academy. The academy provided free or low-cost building science training to youth and low-income individuals. 

Last Updated: June 2021

Energy & Water Utilities
Score: 9.5 out of 15 points
Energy & Water Utilities Summary List All

In March 2020, the City of Worcester launched the Worcester Community Choice (Electric) Aggregation program, which allows the city to purchase clean electricity at lower rates for residents. The standard green default mix is 36% renewable, and customers can opt-in to a 100% green option. The City is the first in the state to launch a CCA program. 

National Grid, an investor-owned utility (IOU), is the primary electric utility for the City of Worcester. National Grid provides transmission and distribution of energy to the city, as well as energy efficiency programs. The primary natural gas supplier for Worcester is Eversource, an IOU. 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 Database.

The Worcester Water Department is the municipal utility that provides the City of Worcester with drinking water services, wastewater treatment, and stormwater management.

Last Updated: July 2021

Electric & Gas Energy Efficiency Programs and SavingsList All

In 2019, National Grid reported 627,982 MWh of net electric savings at the meter, which represents 3.28% of its retail sales. In 2019, National Grid spent $289,042,000 on electric energy efficiency programs, which represents 12.69% of its electric retail revenue.

In 2019, Eversource reported 5.57 MMtherms of net natural gas savings at the meter, which represents 1.72% of its gas retail sales across the utility’s service territory. In 2019, Eversource spent $52,666,653 on gas energy efficiency, which equates to $195.44 per residential gas customer. These savings figures cover both utilities’ entire service jurisdiction, not just Worcester.

Eversource offers natural gas efficiency incentives and technical assistance to residential customers. National Grid similarly offers electric 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.

At this time, the City of Worcester does not have a formal partnership with National Grid or Eversource in the form of a jointly developed or administered energy saving strategy, plan, or agreement.

Last Updated: July 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.

In 2019, according to National Grid, it achieved 15,646 MWh energy savings, while spending $33,370,919 on its low-income electric programs and served 9,259 electric low-income customers. In 2019, according to Eversource, it achieved 0.45 MMtherms of energy savings, while spending $11,181,028 on its low-income natural gas programs and served 2,763 natural gas low-income customers.

Multifamily Programs

Both Eversource and National Grid the Residential Coordinated Delivery initiative, which 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. It 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.

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 2019, according to National Grid, it achieved 19,181 MWh in energy savings. National Grid’s spending and participation data was not available. In 2019, according to Eversource, it saved 0.60 MMtherms, while spending $7,847,943 on its multifamily gas programs and serving 13,900 multifamily housing units.

Last Updated: July 2021

Provision of Energy Data by UtilitiesList All

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 provides automated aggregated energy use data for multitenant and multifamily buildings.  Worcester does not provide community-wide aggregated energy use data for community planning or evaluation purposes, but Eversource publishes energy consumption to a publicly available dashboard.

The City of Worcester does not advocate for better access to utility data for ratepayers or the establishment of data-sharing agreements between the city and its utilities.

Last Updated: July 2021

Renewable Energy Efforts of Energy UtilitiesList All

Utility Climate Mitigation Goal

In 2020, National Grid set a target to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, along with interim targets of 80% by 2030 and 90% by 2040 from a 1990 baseline. To achieve the goal of 80% by 2030, National Grid will need to reduce emissions by 2.6% annually from 2019 levels from US operations.

City-Led Efforts to Decarbonize the Electric Grid

In March 2020, the City Worcester was the first in the state to launch a Community Choice Aggregation program for all city residents. The program at least doubles the renewable energy for all participants by purchasing 20% more renewable energy and includes a 100% green energy option. The goal of the program is to provide the city with flexible options to procure renewable energy, ensure price stability for residents, provide consumer protection and informed electrify choice to residents, with universal, equitable access and treatment for all. 

Last Updated: August 2021

Efficiency Efforts in Water ServicesList All

Citywide Water Efficiency and Goals

Although the energy and water utilities do not offer joint energy and water efficiency programs, National Grid does offer rebates and incentives for water and energy saving technologies, such as faucet aerators, clothes washers, and showerheads. Eversource does not partner with the water department, but it does offer water savings through existing energy efficiency programs.

At this point, the City of Worcester has not established a water savings target or goal.

Water Plant Efficiency and Self-Generation

The water utility has not set specific energy efficiency targets or strategies. The City’s water system does not self-generate its own energy.

Last Updated: July 2021

Transportation
Score: 4.5 out of 30 points
Sustainable Transportation Planning List All

Sustainable Transportation Plan

The city's Climate Action Plan includes a transportation section. The plan includes strategies to reduce VMT, like increasing employee carpooling, increasing public transport ridership, and increasing walking and biking.

VMT/GHG Targets and Stringency

Worcester does not have a VMT/GHG target in place for the transportation sector.

Progress Achieved Toward VMT/GHG Targets

Worcester does not track progress towards a VMT/GHG target.

Last Updated: March 2020

Location Efficiency List All

Location Efficient Zoning Codes

The city’s Commercial Corridors Overlay District’s intent is to encourage compact, pedestrian friendly development that is physically and functionally integrated through site design, dimensional and parking standards that limit parking, provide flexibility for development initiatives and provide incentives for mixed-use development.

Residential Parking Policies

Lower parking minimum requirements and parking maximums are established in the Commercial Corridor Overlay District, which includes downtown and mixed-use neighborhoods radiating out from the downtown along arterial corridors

Location Efficiency Incentives and Disclosure

Worcester does not have location efficiency incentives or disclosure requirements.

Last Updated: March 2020

Mode Shift List All

Mode Shift Targets

Worcester does not have a mode shift target in place for the transportation sector.

Progress Achieved Toward Mode Shift Targets

Worcester does not track progress towards their mode shift target.

Complete Streets

Worcester adopted a complete streets policy in 2018.

Car Sharing

Worcester does not have a parking policy in place for car sharing vehicles.

Bike Sharing

The city has 0 docked bike share bikes per 100,000 people.

Last Updated: May 2020

Transit List All

Transportation Funding

The transportation entities that serve the City of Worcester have received $45,874,536 on average annually between 2014 and 2018. That equates to roughly $48.40 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 Worcester Transit Connectivity Index value is 5.7, scoring 0.5 points in the City Scorecard.

Last Updated: May 2020

Efficient VehiclesList All

Vehicle Purchase Incentives

At this time, Worcester does not offer incentives for citizens to purchase hybrid, plug-in, or EV vehicles.

Vehicle Infrastructure Incentives

Worcester does not currently offer incentives for the installing of EV charging infrastructure.

EV Charging Locations

The City has 17 charging stations available for public use, equivalent to 9.1 stations per 100,000 people.

Renewable Charging Incentives

Worcester does not have any incentives for renewable EV charging infrastructure installation.

Last Updated: March 2020

Freight System EfficiencyList All

Worcester 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

Worcester does not have any requirements or incentives in place to encourage the development or preservation of affordable housing in transit-served areas.

Connecting Existing Affordable Housing Stock to Efficient Transportation Options

Worcester does not provide any subsidies for efficient transportation options to low-income residents.

Last Updated: March 2020