State and Local Policy Database

Worcester

City Scorecard Rank

50

Worcester, MA

26.50Scored out of 100Updated 10/2020
Local Government Score:
4.5 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.  

Climate Mitigation Goal

The city does not have a climate mitigation or greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal for municipal operations.

Energy Reduction Goal

Worcester participates in the Better Buildings Challenge to achieve an energy use reduction of 20% below 2009 levels by 2020. The city is also a designated Massachusetts Green Community. The designation requires the city to commit to a 20% energy use reduction in municipal operations over five years.

Renewable Energy Goal

We did not find information regarding a municipal renewable energy goal.

Last updated: March 2020

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, following over 13,000 of its streetlights 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 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 could not verify if the city has inclusive procurement and contracting processes.

Last updated: July 2020

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. 

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: July 2020

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

The City of Worcester released the Climate Action Plan in 2006. The city is expecting to release its Green Worcester Plan this year. The development of the plan involved heavy community input and will include a detailed list of goals, actions, and suggested funding sources.

Last updated: July 2020

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

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

Energy Data Reporting

The city does not report community-wide energy data.

Last updated: March 2020

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.

Accountability to Equity

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: March 2020

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: March 2020

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: July 2020

Buildings Policies
Score: 7 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: September 2020

Building Energy Code AdoptionList All

Overview 

The State of Massachusetts requires all buildings to be consistent with 2015 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC)/ASHRAE 90.1-2013, but grants municipalities the authority to adopt a state-determined stretch code. Worcester adopted this stretch code in 2010.  To learn more about Massachusetts’s required energy codes, please visit the State Policy Database.

Commercial 

Commercial properties must comply with the 2015 IECC/ASHRAE 90.1-2013. The city’s zEPI score for their commercial energy code is 49.8. 

Residential

Residential properties must comply with the 2015 IECC/ASHRAE 90.1-2013. The city’s zEPI score for their residential energy code is 48.9

Solar- and EV-ready

The city has not passed an ordinance mandating new construction be solar- and/or EV-ready.

Last Updated: September 2020

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.

Last Updated: September 2020

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: September 2020

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: September 2020

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. To learn more about utility policies and programs for the entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts, please visit the State Policy 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: May 2020

Electric & Gas Energy Efficiency Programs and SavingsList All

In 2018, National Grid MA reported 745,560 MWh of net electric savings at the meter, which represents 3.73% of its retail sales. In 2018, National Grid MA spent $271,559,000 on energy efficiency programs, which represents 11.60% of its retail revenue.

In 2018, Eversource reported 7.07 MMtherms of net natural gas savings at the meter, which represents 2.23% of its retail sales across the utility’s service territory. In 2018, Eversource spent $50,638,746 on energy efficiency, which equates to $190.01 per residential 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: March 2020

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 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) and the Heating Emergency Assistance Retrofit Task Weatherization Assistance Program (HEARTWAP). 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 2018, according to National Grid, it achieved 22,898 MWh energy savings, while spending $43,547,968 on its low-income electric programs and served 13,343 electric low-income customers. In 2018, according to Eversource, it achieved 0.44 MMtherms of energy savings, while spending $11,554,057 on its low-income natural gas programs and served 2,851 natural gas low-income customers.

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 building approach, the assessments focus on a facility's thermal envelope 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 2018, according to National Grid, it achieved 19,768 MWh in energy savings, while spending $29,741,385 on its multifamily electric programs and served 5,987 multifamily electric customers. In 2018, according to Eversource, it saved 0.37 MMtherms, while spending $7,619,940 on its multifamily gas programs and served 3,815 natural gas multifamily customers.

Last Updated: March 2020

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. 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: March 2020

Renewable Energy Efforts of Energy UtilitiesList All

Renewable Energy Incentives

In 2018, National Grid did not provide renewable energy incentives for the construction of new distributed solar or wind systems. The Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) Program was implemented in 2019, which provides incentives for the development of PV projects up to 5 MW in size. 

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: May 2020

Efficiency Efforts in Water ServicesList All

City-wide 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: March 2020

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 2019

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 2019

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 2019

Transit List All

Transportation Funding

Worcester spends an average of $25.64 per capita on transit.

Access to Transit Services

The city has an All Transit Performance score of 4.8 out of 10.

Last Updated: March 2019

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

Worcester has 7 publicly available EV charging locations per 100,000 people.

Renewable Charging Incentives

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

Last Updated: March 2019

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 2019

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.

Low-Income Access to High Quality Transit

0% of low-income households (those that earn less than $50k annually) are located near high-quality, all-day transit in Worcester.

Last Updated: March 2019