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Cities doing the most for a clean energy future

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Cities doing the most for a clean energy future

Kermit the Frog once famously opined, “It’s not easy being green.” But despite the amphibious Muppet’s lamentations, many pockets of the United States are now continuously looking for ways to become more “green” with energy use. Examples can be found in Atlanta, where electric scooters dot the city’s sidewalks. New York, despite its public transportation headaches, has some of the cleanest tap water. No matter where you travel, new buildings from skyscrapers to schools are being constructed with cutting-edge green technologies.

The 2019 City Clean Energy Scorecard from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) ranked 75 American cities on their local policies in five areas: local government, community-wide initiatives, buildings policies, energy and water utilities, and transportation. Stacker includes the top 50 locales from the ACEEE report to rank the cities doing the most to bring America into a clean energy future.

While reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and usage of light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs are seemingly standard steps any city can take to go green, there are many more layered actions to truly make a noticeable green footprint. For example, making more environmentally friendly transportation systems is only one part of increasing a city’s efficiency—ensuring those methods are widely available to low-income neighborhoods also has a strong impact on a city’s function. Silver or Gold Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification is prevalent in most new buildings, and efforts to retrofit and update older facilities with greener functions are also en vogue.

The list is ranked by overall score with data from July 2019. Some of America’s major metropolises are among its most green locales, while upstart smaller cities like Bridgeport, Riverside, and Providence are making their presences known, too. Click through to see if your hometown is among the leaders of our country’s green movement.

You may also like: States doing the most for a clean energy future 

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Serge Melki // Flickr

#50. Indianapolis, IN

- Overall score: 24 (out of 100 points)
- Local government score: 3.5 (out of 9; 0 points below national median)
- Community-wide initiatives score: 6 (out of 16; 1.5 points above national median)
- Buildings policies score: 3 (out of 30; 6 points below national median)
- Energy & water utilities score: 5 (out of 15; 0.5 points below national median)
- Transportation policies score: 6.5 (out of 30; 2 points below national median)

Indianapolis has renewable electricity and reduction of GHG emissions targets but is not expected to reach its current goals, according to ACEEE. One simple solution would be converting all street lights to LEDs. Thrive Indianapolis is an initiative the city uses to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy with its utility companies.

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nickchapman // Wikipedia

#49. Bakersfield, CA

- Overall score: 24.5 (out of 100 points)
- Local government score: 1 (out of 9; 2.5 points below national median)
- Community-wide initiatives score: 1 (out of 16; 3.5 points below national median)
- Buildings policies score: 12 (out of 30; 3 points above national median)
- Energy & water utilities score: 8 (out of 15; 2.5 points above national median)
- Transportation policies score: 2.5 (out of 30; 6 points below national median)

Aside from converting its street lights to LEDs, Bakersfield has much room for improvement in lowering GHGs. Utility providers offer inexpensive programs for low-income and multifamily households, but few sustainable transportation policies keep its score relatively low.

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Ryoichi Tanaka // Flickr

#47. Honolulu, Hawaii (tie)

- Overall score: 26 (out of 100 points)
- Local government score: 3.5 (out of 9; 0 points below national median)
- Community-wide initiatives score: 2 (out of 16; 2.5 points below national median)
- Buildings policies score: 2 (out of 30; 7 points below national median)
- Energy & water utilities score: 7 (out of 15; 1.5 points above national median)
- Transportation policies score: 11.5 (out of 30; 3 points above national median)

Honolulu thrives with its transportation efforts, from bike-share programs to a statewide partnership with Nissan to offer incentives for electric vehicles (EVs). Building policies could improve, with suggestions such as developing an equitable clean energy workforce. Honolulu has made a decent push of late to encourage decarbonization.

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Unsplash

#47. Nashville, TN (tie)

- Overall score: 26 (out of 100 points)
- Local government score: 4 (out of 9; 0.5 points above national median)
- Community-wide initiatives score: 8.5 (out of 16; 4 points above national median)
- Buildings policies score: 4.5 (out of 30; 4.5 points below national median)
- Energy & water utilities score: 2.5 (out of 15; 3 points below national median)
- Transportation policies score: 6.5 (out of 30; 2 points below national median)

Nashville is more than a city for good country music and barbecue. In 2017, Nashville leased a landfill for free to be repurposed as a community solar farm. However, more could be done to make transit available in low-income areas, and the city could pass more policies requiring energy actions.

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Payton Chung // Flickr

#44. Fort Worth, Texas (tie)

- Overall score: 26.5 (out of 100 points)
- Local government score: 1.5 (out of 9; 2 points below national median)
- Community-wide initiatives score: 1.5 (out of 16; 3 points below national median)
- Buildings policies score: 9 (out of 30; 0 points below national median)
- Energy & water utilities score: 7.5 (out of 15; 2 points above national median)
- Transportation policies score: 7 (out of 30; 1.5 points below national median)

Fort Worth could drastically reduce GHG emissions. This Texas hot spot also has room for improvement in transportation; Fort Worth’s transit system is underfunded and not as accessible as it might be. Fort Worth has shown marked improvement in efficient drinking water and wastewater services.

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Jayne Lipkovich // Shutterstock

#44. Milwaukee, WI (tie)

- Overall score: 26.5 (out of 100 points)
- Local government score: 3 (out of 9; 0.5 points below national median)
- Community-wide initiatives score: 3 (out of 16; 1.5 points below national median)
- Buildings policies score: 4 (out of 30; 5 points below national median)
- Energy & water utilities score: 8 (out of 15; 2.5 points above national median)
- Transportation policies score: 8.5 (out of 30; 0 points below national median)

Milwaukee has seen gains with a Complete Streets ordinance introduced in 2018, but data shows an underfunded transit system. Revising zoning regulations should help fix the transit dilemma. Elsewhere, this large Wisconsin city could do well in creating a GHG emissions reduction goal.

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Bz3rk // Wikimedia Commons

#44. Raleigh, NC (tie)

- Overall score: 26.5 (out of 100 points)
- Local government score: 5 (out of 9; 1.5 points above national median)
- Community-wide initiatives score: 2 (out of 16; 2.5 points below national median)
- Buildings policies score: 8 (out of 30; 1 points below national median)
- Energy & water utilities score: 3.5 (out of 15; 2 points below national median)
- Transportation policies score: 8 (out of 30; 0.5 points below national median)

Raleigh has new green building requirements and sees gains in tracking energy use in municipal buildings. Existing buildings could see improvement with a benchmarking and transparency ordinance. Incentives for construction of new distributed solar or wind systems would also benefit this bustling North Carolina locale.

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Aubrey Gough // Shutterstock

#42. Bridgeport, CT (tie)

- Overall score: 27 (out of 100 points)
- Local government score: 3 (out of 9; 0.5 points below national median)
- Community-wide initiatives score: 5 (out of 16; 0.5 points above national median)
- Buildings policies score: 7 (out of 30; 2 points below national median)
- Energy & water utilities score: 5 (out of 15; 0.5 points below national median)
- Transportation policies score: 7 (out of 30; 1.5 points below national median)

Bridgeport, once a heavily industrialized city, is taking steps to establish energy efficiency and renewable energy goals for local government operations. Community-wide renewable energy goals and energy-savings goals will further boost Bridgeport’s score. Its transit system needs to improve accessibility, though.

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JGlover // Wikimedia Commons

#42. Knoxville, TN (tie)

- Overall score: 27 (out of 100 points)
- Local government score: 3.5 (out of 9; 8.5 points above national median)
- Community-wide initiatives score: 2.5 (out of 16; 0.5 points above national median)
- Buildings policies score: 7.5 (out of 30; 3 points above national median)
- Energy & water utilities score: 3.5 (out of 15; 0.5 points above national median)
- Transportation policies score: 10 (out of 30; 5 points above national median)

Knoxville scores points for establishing a fund to increase affordable rental properties near transit-heavy areas. This Tennessee city could still do more, though, to incorporate fuel-efficient vehicles. ACEEE also recommends doing away with minimum parking requirements around the city.

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Pete716 // Wikipedia

#40. Buffalo, NY (tie)

- Overall score: 28 (out of 100 points)
- Local government score: 3 (out of 9; 0.5 points below national median)
- Community-wide initiatives score: 2 (out of 16; 2.5 points below national median)
- Buildings policies score: 5.5 (out of 30; 3.5 points below national median)
- Energy & water utilities score: 6.5 (out of 15; 1 points above national median)
- Transportation policies score: 11 (out of 30; 2.5 points above national median)

Buffalo will soon convert all street lights to LEDs and has a tree protection ordinance. Solar training programs also boost its reputation, but there’s also room for improvement in offering incentives for compact and mixed-use development.

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Ron Cogswell // Flickr

#40. Richmond, VA (tie)

- Overall score: 28 (out of 100 points)
- Local government score: 3 (out of 9; 0.5 points below national median)
- Community-wide initiatives score: 3.5 (out of 16; 1 points below national median)
- Buildings policies score: 7 (out of 30; 2 points below national median)
- Energy & water utilities score: 4 (out of 15; 1.5 points below national median)
- Transportation policies score: 10.5 (out of 30; 2 points above national median)

Richmond has a new bike-sharing program and offers telecommuting and flexible scheduling options for employees, making it a progressive city on the rise. To further grow, Richmond should, per ACEEE recommendations, provide training programs and institute inclusive procurement policies to grow an equitable workforce dedicated to clean energy.

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Jim Dietrich // Wikimedia Commons

#39. St. Petersburg, FL

- Overall score: 28.5 (out of 100 points)
- Local government score: 3.5 (out of 9; 0 points below national median)
- Community-wide initiatives score: 8.5 (out of 16; 4 points above national median)
- Buildings policies score: 6 (out of 30; 3 points below national median)
- Energy & water utilities score: 2.5 (out of 15; 3 points below national median)
- Transportation policies score: 8 (out of 30; 0.5 points below national median)

St. Petersburg is pushing to increase electricity generation from renewable sources. Dealing with an urban heat island effect, St. Petersburg has goals to ensure no net loss of wetlands. Despite its tropical climate and warm weather, the city is cold when it comes to public transportation infrastructure.

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Pexels

#38. Grand Rapids, MI

- Overall score: 29 (out of 100 points)
- Local government score: 4 (out of 9; 0.5 points above national median)
- Community-wide initiatives score: 2 (out of 16; 2.5 points below national median)
- Buildings policies score: 6 (out of 30; 3 points below national median)
- Energy & water utilities score: 8.5 (out of 15; 3 points above national median)
- Transportation policies score: 8.5 (out of 30; 0 points below national median)

Recently, Grand Rapids created property-assessed clean energy (PACE) financing for commercial and multifamily buildings to fund a multitude of projects. The city also is planning to increase walking, biking, transit, and ridesharing trips. But performance in local government operation, transportation policies, and community-wide initiatives would further boost Grand Rapids’ ranking.

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Drumguy8800 // Wikimedia Commons

#37. Dallas, Texas

- Overall score: 29.5 (out of 100 points)
- Local government score: 3.5 (out of 9; 0 points below national median)
- Community-wide initiatives score: 2.5 (out of 16; 2 points below national median)
- Buildings policies score: 13 (out of 30; 4 points above national median)
- Energy & water utilities score: 5 (out of 15; 0.5 points below national median)
- Transportation policies score: 5.5 (out of 30; 3 points below national median)

A comprehensive housing policy in Dallas finances energy efficiency upgrades for low-income households. Community-wide GHG reduction, renewable energy goals, and energy savings would be another solid implementation. A sustainable transportation plan is much needed, however, in this booming metropolis.

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Pixabay

#36. St. Louis, MO

- Overall score: 31 (out of 100 points)
- Local government score: 2.5 (out of 9; 1 points below national median)
- Community-wide initiatives score: 5.5 (out of 16; 1 points above national median)
- Buildings policies score: 13 (out of 30; 4 points above national median)
- Energy & water utilities score: 3.5 (out of 15; 2 points below national median)
- Transportation policies score: 6.5 (out of 30; 2 points below national median)

St. Louis has few regulations to reduce GHG emissions. A solar pilot project is a good start to curb that deficiency, but energy efficiency of water services still needs work. For such a large Midwest city, St. Louis’s transit system is underfunded and only moderately accessible.

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Pixabay

#35. Houston, Texas

- Overall score: 31.5 (out of 100 points)
- Local government score: 5 (out of 9; 1.5 points above national median)
- Community-wide initiatives score: 3.5 (out of 16; 1 points below national median)
- Buildings policies score: 10 (out of 30; 1 points above national median)
- Energy & water utilities score: 4.5 (out of 15; 1 points below national median)
- Transportation policies score: 8.5 (out of 30; 0 points below national median)

Houston lacks renewable electricity and climate-change mitigation goals, but local government operations are otherwise thriving. Within the next three to five years, Houston also plans to plant 1 million trees. The city also offers tax abatements and expedited permits to commercial buildings that meet LEED standards.

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Rawpixel Ltd // Flickr

#34. Cincinnati, Ohio

- Overall score: 33 (out of 100 points)
- Local government score: 2 (out of 9; 1.5 points below national median)
- Community-wide initiatives score: 8.5 (out of 16; 4 points above national median)
- Buildings policies score: 9 (out of 30; 0 points below national median)
- Energy & water utilities score: 4 (out of 15; 1.5 points below national median)
- Transportation policies score: 9.5 (out of 30; 1 points above national median)

Cincinnati was designated one of three “Cities to Watch.” The city’s “Green Cincinnati Plan” is committed to a series of bills to expedite green energy efforts. Reducing energy in transportation is also paramount, but Cincinnati could still adopt more green building requirements for its municipal structures.

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#32. Las Vegas, NV (tie)

- Overall score: 34 (out of 100 points)
- Local government score: 6.5 (out of 9; 3 points above national median)
- Community-wide initiatives score: 3.5 (out of 16; 1 points below national median)
- Buildings policies score: 10 (out of 30; 1 points above national median)
- Energy & water utilities score: 4.5 (out of 15; 1 points below national median)
- Transportation policies score: 9.5 (out of 30; 1 points above national median)

Las Vegas is on the rise thanks to the adoption of R-32-2017, a resolution that included climate and energy goals for municipal government, as well as energy efficiency retrofit requirements for municipal buildings. Despite the glitz and glamour of the strip, Las Vegas has set out to increase the urban tree canopy to 20% by 2035.

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Nan Palmero // Flickr

#32. San Antonio, Texas (tie)

- Overall score: 34 (out of 100 points)
- Local government score: 4.5 (out of 9; 1 points above national median)
- Community-wide initiatives score: 5.5 (out of 16; 1 points above national median)
- Buildings policies score: 11 (out of 30; 2 points above national median)
- Energy & water utilities score: 4 (out of 15; 1.5 points below national median)
- Transportation policies score: 9 (out of 30; 0.5 points above national median)

San Antonio’s Green & Healthy Home program aids low- to moderate-income households in making safety and efficiency repairs, with deferred forgivable loans helping to cover the costs. For its local government operations, though, San Antonio has not established energy-reduction, renewable electricity, or climate-change mitigation goals.

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Pixabay

#31. Saint Paul, MN

- Overall score: 35 (out of 100 points)
- Local government score: 3 (out of 9; 0.5 points below national median)
- Community-wide initiatives score: 3.5 (out of 16; 1 points below national median)
- Buildings policies score: 8 (out of 30; 1 points below national median)
- Energy & water utilities score: 8.5 (out of 15; 3 points above national median)
- Transportation policies score: 12 (out of 30; 3.5 points above national median)

Saint Paul has yet to adopt community-wide GHG reduction, energy savings, or renewable energy goals. This neighbor of Minneapolis does offer existing buildings incentives and financing programs to encourage clean energy investments. Utility powerhouse Xcel Energy also offers a range of programs for low-income and multifamily households.

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Unsplash

#30. Salt Lake City, Utah

- Overall score: 35.5 (out of 100 points)
- Local government score: 6 (out of 9; 2.5 points above national median)
- Community-wide initiatives score: 6 (out of 16; 1.5 points above national median)
- Buildings policies score: 9 (out of 30; 0 points below national median)
- Energy & water utilities score: 6.5 (out of 15; 1 points above national median)
- Transportation policies score: 8 (out of 30; 0.5 points below national median)

ACEEE does not project that Salt Lake City will achieve its goal of reducing community-wide GHG emissions 50% by 2030. However, the city does institute an Energy Benchmarking and Transparency Ordinance, requiring large commercial buildings to report and disclose their energy consumption on an annual basis. Salt Lake City also has a well-funded and accessible transportation system.

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paul.wasneski // Flickr

#29. Baltimore, MD

- Overall score: 39.5 (out of 100 points)
- Local government score: 3.5 (out of 9; 0 points below national median)
- Community-wide initiatives score: 6.5 (out of 16; 2 points above national median)
- Buildings policies score: 9.5 (out of 30; 0.5 points above national median)
- Energy & water utilities score: 6.5 (out of 15; 1 points above national median)
- Transportation policies score: 13.5 (out of 30; 5 points above national median)

The creation of a bike-sharing network that offers discounts to low-income residents and a 2019 Sustainability Plan has Baltimore on the upswing. The city is also working to bring more fuel-efficient vehicles into its fleet and aims to double its urban tree canopy over the next 18 years.

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Jasonrene // Wikipedia

#27. Cleveland, Ohio (tie)

- Overall score: 40.5 (out of 100 points)
- Local government score: 5 (out of 9; 1.5 points above national median)
- Community-wide initiatives score: 10.5 (out of 16; 6 points above national median)
- Buildings policies score: 8 (out of 30; 1 points below national median)
- Energy & water utilities score: 6 (out of 15; 0.5 points above national median)
- Transportation policies score: 11 (out of 30; 2.5 points above national median)

Cleveland is in the midst of a comprehensive upgrade of all streetlights to LEDs and aims to plant another 50,000 trees by next year. The major energy provider, FirstEnergy, does not offer incentives for new distributed solar or wind systems, though. An increase in the number of public EV-charging stations would further help Cleveland’s green future.

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miguel // Wikimedia Commons

#27. Riverside, CA (tie)

- Overall score: 40.5 (out of 100 points)
- Local government score: 3 (out of 9; 0.5 points below national median)
- Community-wide initiatives score: 4.5 (out of 16; 0 points below national median)
- Buildings policies score: 15.5 (out of 30; 6.5 points above national median)
- Energy & water utilities score: 10 (out of 15; 4.5 points above national median)
- Transportation policies score: 7.5 (out of 30; 1 points below national median)

Location plays a big role in Riverside’s ranking. The city benefits from California’s building energy code and benchmarking requirements, as well as from Southern California’s high savings for natural gas efficiency programs. Direct access to, and improved accessibility of, transit options could keep Riverside climbing up the poll.

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Another Believer // Wikimedia Commons

#25. Columbus, Ohio (tie)

- Overall score: 41.5 (out of 100 points)
- Local government score: 4 (out of 9; 0.5 points above national median)
- Community-wide initiatives score: 7 (out of 16; 2.5 points above national median)
- Buildings policies score: 9 (out of 30; 0 points below national median)
- Energy & water utilities score: 8.5 (out of 15; 3 points above national median)
- Transportation policies score: 13 (out of 30; 4.5 points above national median)

Columbus has prioritized clean water and wastewater services. Low-income and multifamily households in particular benefit from these efforts, but improved parking and a full switch to LED streetlights could further greenify Columbus.

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Will Hart // Wikimedia Commons

#25. Providence, RI (tie)

- Overall score: 41.5 (out of 100 points)
- Local government score: 6 (out of 9; 2.5 points above national median)
- Community-wide initiatives score: 8 (out of 16; 3.5 points above national median)
- Buildings policies score: 5.5 (out of 30; 3.5 points below national median)
- Energy & water utilities score: 11 (out of 15; 5.5 points above national median)
- Transportation policies score: 11 (out of 30; 2.5 points above national median)

Providence earned one of ACEEE’s “Cities to Watch” designations, with several new policies introduced since 2017. Prioritizing low-income communities in environmental planning processes has also scored big points, while the implementation of a Racial & Environmental Justice Committee has won local praise. The city’s transportation system remains underfunded, however.

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JJBers // Flickr

#24. Hartford, CT

- Overall score: 43.5 (out of 100 points)
- Local government score: 2 (out of 9; 1.5 points below national median)
- Community-wide initiatives score: 5 (out of 16; 0.5 points above national median)
- Buildings policies score: 13 (out of 30; 4 points above national median)
- Energy & water utilities score: 8.5 (out of 15; 3 points above national median)
- Transportation policies score: 15 (out of 30; 6.5 points above national median)

Hartford was ACEEE’s final “City to Watch.” Much of this acclaim is due to a drastically improved transit system, including doing away with minimum parking requirements. Hartford’s existing buildings would be helped by further clean energy investments.

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Pixabay

#23. Kansas City, MO

- Overall score: 44.5 (out of 100 points)
- Local government score: 4.5 (out of 9; 1 points above national median)
- Community-wide initiatives score: 7 (out of 16; 2.5 points above national median)
- Buildings policies score: 19 (out of 30; 10 points above national median)
- Energy & water utilities score: 5.5 (out of 15; 0 points below national median)
- Transportation policies score: 8.5 (out of 30; 0 points below national median)

Kansas City is known for its tight commercial and residential building energy codes, making it a top American city for building policies. More streetlights can be converted to LEDs, and transit accessibility could increase. Kansas City’s Resolution 170586—with its energy-reduction goals—helps the city’s performance in local government operations.

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Daniel X. O'Neill // Flickr

#22. Atlanta, GA

- Overall score: 45 (out of 100 points)
- Local government score: 5 (out of 9; 1.5 points above national median)
- Community-wide initiatives score: 8.5 (out of 16; 4 points above national median)
- Buildings policies score: 11 (out of 30; 2 points above national median)
- Energy & water utilities score: 5 (out of 15; 0.5 points below national median)
- Transportation policies score: 15.5 (out of 30; 7 points above national median)

Atlanta’s 2018 Clean Energy Resolution created renewable energy goals, boosting its ranking. The city has several targets to increase energy efficiency in water services and wastewater treatment plants. Numerous bike and scooter shares make Atlanta a leader in supporting clean, efficient transportation for low-income communities.

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Roman Eugeniusz // Wikimedia Commons

#20. Chula Vista , CA (tie)

- Overall score: 45.5 (out of 100 points)
- Local government score: 4.5 (out of 9; 1 points above national median)
- Community-wide initiatives score: 4 (out of 16; 0.5 points below national median)
- Buildings policies score: 17 (out of 30; 8 points above national median)
- Energy & water utilities score: 12.5 (out of 15; 7 points above national median)
- Transportation policies score: 7.5 (out of 30; 1 points below national median)

Chula Vista earned top 10 scores in energy and water utilities, but transportation policies remain in flux. All outdoor lighting is LED, and similar efforts are in place to reform water efficiency.

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California Air Resources Board // Wikimedia Commons

#20. Sacramento, CA (tie)

- Overall score: 45.5 (out of 100 points)
- Local government score: 3.5 (out of 9; 0 points below national median)
- Community-wide initiatives score: 5.5 (out of 16; 1 points above national median)
- Buildings policies score: 17.5 (out of 30; 8.5 points above national median)
- Energy & water utilities score: 8.5 (out of 15; 3 points above national median)
- Transportation policies score: 10.5 (out of 30; 2 points above national median)

Sacramento has zero emission targets for its fleet of public vehicles. Elsewhere, the capital of California requires new city facilities to reach LEED Silver certification. To continue its green momentum, Sacramento would do well to develop policies and programs to expand its clean energy workforce.

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Unsplash

#19. Pittsburgh, PA

- Overall score: 46 (out of 100 points)
- Local government score: 5.5 (out of 9; 2 points above national median)
- Community-wide initiatives score: 7 (out of 16; 2.5 points above national median)
- Buildings policies score: 12.5 (out of 30; 3.5 points above national median)
- Energy & water utilities score: 5 (out of 15; 0.5 points below national median)
- Transportation policies score: 16 (out of 30; 7.5 points above national median)

In 2018, Pittsburgh adopted its Climate Action Plan 3.0. Building off similar plans from 2008 and 2012, Pittsburgh plans to divest city funds from fossil fuels by 2030. Water systems remain lacking, and offering incentives for new distributed solar or wind systems are among the recommendations by ACEEE.

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Tisoy // Wikimedia Commons

#18. Long Beach, CA

- Overall score: 49 (out of 100 points)
- Local government score: 6 (out of 9; 2.5 points above national median)
- Community-wide initiatives score: 5.5 (out of 16; 1 points above national median)
- Buildings policies score: 17.5 (out of 30; 8.5 points above national median)
- Energy & water utilities score: 6.5 (out of 15; 1 points above national median)
- Transportation policies score: 13.5 (out of 30; 5 points above national median)

Long Beach makes its debut in the top 20 with ideas such as the Bike Master Plan to implement a reduced-fare bike-share program for low-income residents. Long Beach’s transit system as a whole, however, remains underfunded and could use more direct investment.

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Kinkisharyo // Wikimedia Commons

#17. Phoenix, AZ

- Overall score: 50.5 (out of 100 points)
- Local government score: 6.5 (out of 9; 3 points above national median)
- Community-wide initiatives score: 10.5 (out of 16; 6 points above national median)
- Buildings policies score: 13 (out of 30; 4 points above national median)
- Energy & water utilities score: 7.5 (out of 15; 2 points above national median)
- Transportation policies score: 13 (out of 30; 4.5 points above national median)

Phoenix, like Honolulu, has a partnership with Nissan offering discounts on electric vehicles. The city is also working to convert all streetlights to LEDs and on-site solar on municipal buildings. Phoenix is one of eight cities offering incentives for EV-charging infrastructure only powered by renewable energy.

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PxHere

#16. Philadelphia, PA

- Overall score: 51 (out of 100 points)
- Local government score: 6.5 (out of 9; 3 points above national median)
- Community-wide initiatives score: 7.5 (out of 16; 3 points above national median)
- Buildings policies score: 13.5 (out of 30; 4.5 points above national median)
- Energy & water utilities score: 7.5 (out of 15; 2 points above national median)
- Transportation policies score: 16 (out of 30; 7.5 points above national median)

A tight building energy code and telework policy for municipal workers has Philadelphia peaking just outside the top 15. Walking and biking are becoming more prevalent around this historical city thanks to recent upgrades in clean transportation—a smart way to work off those cheesesteak calories. The future looks bright, too—high school students can take part in Find Your Power, a solar job training initiative.

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Pixabay

#15. Orlando, FL

- Overall score: 51.5 (out of 100 points)
- Local government score: 7.5 (out of 9; 4 points above national median)
- Community-wide initiatives score: 10.5 (out of 16; 6 points above national median)
- Buildings policies score: 14 (out of 30; 5 points above national median)
- Energy & water utilities score: 5.5 (out of 15; 0 points below national median)
- Transportation policies score: 14 (out of 30; 5.5 points above national median)

Orlando comes in as the highest-ranked southeastern city on this year’s list. Orlando’s rise is not through Disney magic—organizations like the city’s Orlando Utilities Commission started a community solar program and solar bulk-purchasing program. Buildings are subject to energy audits or retro-commissioning if their ENERGY STAR score comes in at 50 or below.

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Tony The Tiger // Wikimedia Commons

#14. Chicago, IL

- Overall score: 56.5 (out of 100 points)
- Local government score: 3 (out of 9; 0.5 points below national median)
- Community-wide initiatives score: 9 (out of 16; 4.5 points above national median)
- Buildings policies score: 20.5 (out of 30; 11.5 points above national median)
- Energy & water utilities score: 9 (out of 15; 3.5 points above national median)
- Transportation policies score: 15 (out of 30; 6.5 points above national median)

In an effort to reduce fuel consumption, Chicago has begun incorporating fuel-efficient vehicles into its fleet. The Bean is not the only popular tourist photo spot, either—Chicago is installing rooftop gardens on 6,000 buildings and plans to plant 1 million trees by 2020. The city could still work harder to encourage decarbonization of its electric grid, though.

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Port of San Diego // Flickr

#13. San Diego, CA

- Overall score: 58.5 (out of 100 points)
- Local government score: 6 (out of 9; 2.5 points above national median)
- Community-wide initiatives score: 7.5 (out of 16; 3 points above national median)
- Buildings policies score: 19 (out of 30; 10 points above national median)
- Energy & water utilities score: 13.5 (out of 15; 8 points above national median)
- Transportation policies score: 12.5 (out of 30; 4 points above national median)

San Diego was designated a “Most Improved City” thanks to its top score in energy and water utilities. Within the city, big savings are offered for electric efficiency programs. San Diego also encourages decarbonization and is beginning to tackle its deficiency in transit options for low-income neighborhoods.

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Ethan Oringel // Flickr

#12. Oakland, CA

- Overall score: 59.5 (out of 100 points)
- Local government score: 6 (out of 9; 2.5 points above national median)
- Community-wide initiatives score: 9 (out of 16; 4.5 points above national median)
- Buildings policies score: 19 (out of 30; 10 points above national median)
- Energy & water utilities score: 10 (out of 15; 4.5 points above national median)
- Transportation policies score: 15.5 (out of 30; 7 points above national median)

Of the 24 new cities on the scorecard, Oakland earned the highest overall rating. A Green Fleet Resolution, Green Building Ordinance, and Clean Energy Initiative all earned high marks. BayREN offers training and education workshops on clean energy in the workforce. The NFL’s Raiders may be leaving soon, but a push toward green energy appears safe to stay.

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Will Buckner // Flickr

#11. San Jose, CA

- Overall score: 62 (out of 100 points)
- Local government score: 3.5 (out of 9; 0 points below national median)
- Community-wide initiatives score: 9 (out of 16; 4.5 points above national median)
- Buildings policies score: 23 (out of 30; 14 points above national median)
- Energy & water utilities score: 11.5 (out of 15; 6 points above national median)
- Transportation policies score: 15 (out of 30; 6.5 points above national median)

San Jose continues its climb up the rankings, falling just outside the top 10. This personal best showing is thanks to an ambitious green energy plan, including an Energy and Water Building Performance Ordinance that drew marks six points above the national median. Transportation policies and local government performance might just send San Jose into the top 10 next time.

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PxHere

#10. Portland, OR

- Overall score: 62.5 (out of 100 points)
- Local government score: 7 (out of 9; 3.5 points above national median)
- Community-wide initiatives score: 7.5 (out of 16; 3 points above national median)
- Buildings policies score: 15 (out of 30; 6 points above national median)
- Energy & water utilities score: 11.5 (out of 15; 6 points above national median)
- Transportation policies score: 21.5 (out of 30; 13 points above national median)

Portland has long been a practitioner of renewable energy powering government operations. By 2030, Portland aims to have an urban tree canopy to cover one-third of the city. In transportation, Portland was the only city to be awarded points for location-efficient policies.

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Luis Tamayo // Flickr

#9. Austin, Texas

- Overall score: 63 (out of 100 points)
- Local government score: 7.5 (out of 9; 4 points above national median)
- Community-wide initiatives score: 10 (out of 16; 5.5 points above national median)
- Buildings policies score: 21 (out of 30; 12 points above national median)
- Energy & water utilities score: 9.5 (out of 15; 4 points above national median)
- Transportation policies score: 15 (out of 30; 6.5 points above national median)

In Austin, 100% renewable energy powers municipal operations. Since 2017, new homes are required to be solar-ready, and local energy company Austin Energy generated 36% of its output from renewable sources. The presence of the University of Texas within the city limits helps in growing Austin’s clean energy workforce with collaboration on the Clean Energy Incubator.

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Kenneth C. Zirkel // Wikimedia Commons

#8. Denver, CO

- Overall score: 64.5 (out of 100 points)
- Local government score: 6.5 (out of 9; 3 points above national median)
- Community-wide initiatives score: 10.5 (out of 16; 6 points above national median)
- Buildings policies score: 20 (out of 30; 11 points above national median)
- Energy & water utilities score: 11.5 (out of 15; 6 points above national median)
- Transportation policies score: 16 (out of 30; 7.5 points above national median)

Denver continually rolls out new initiatives to remain among the greenest cities in America. All new construction must achieve LEED Gold certification, and a Mobility Action Plan encourages use of transportation other than personal vehicles. As of now, Denver is projected to meet its 2020 goal of reducing local government emissions 4% from 2012.

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Allan Der // Flickr

#7. Los Angeles, CA

- Overall score: 65.5 (out of 100 points)
- Local government score: 6.5 (out of 9; 3 points above national median)
- Community-wide initiatives score: 10 (out of 16; 5.5 points above national median)
- Buildings policies score: 21.5 (out of 30; 12.5 points above national median)
- Energy & water utilities score: 13 (out of 15; 7.5 points above national median)
- Transportation policies score: 14.5 (out of 30; 6 points above national median)

For anyone who has sat in a Los Angeles traffic jam, it’s no surprise that this city’s biggest area of improvement is needed in transportation. A Green New Deal encouraging using transportation other than personal vehicles and more affordable housing near transit nodes are positive signs. Water services and wastewater treatment are shining stars in the city’s effort for building a cleaner energy future.

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Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin // Flickr

#6. New York City, NY

- Overall score: 67 (out of 100 points)
- Local government score: 6.5 (out of 9; 3 points above national median)
- Community-wide initiatives score: 6 (out of 16; 1.5 points above national median)
- Buildings policies score: 25 (out of 30; 16 points above national median)
- Energy & water utilities score: 9.5 (out of 15; 4 points above national median)
- Transportation policies score: 20 (out of 30; 11.5 points above national median)

In a city whose skyline is crowded with skyscrapers, it is paramount that New York caps its carbon emissions for energy use in tall buildings. By 2025, New York also aims to install 10 million square feet of cool roof space. However, transportation still lacks citywide; New York does not have reduction goals for vehicle miles traveled or for GHG emissions.

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Richard King/Director of U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon // Wikimedia Commons

#5. Washington, DC

- Overall score: 68 (out of 100 points)
- Local government score: 6.5 (out of 9; 3 points above national median)
- Community-wide initiatives score: 11.5 (out of 16; 7 points above national median)
- Buildings policies score: 18.5 (out of 30; 9.5 points above national median)
- Energy & water utilities score: 8.5 (out of 15; 3 points above national median)
- Transportation policies score: 23 (out of 30; 14.5 points above national median)

The nation’s capital surges thanks to the 2018 Clean Energy DC Omnibus Amendment Act. Other notable movements include the Solar Works DC program for low-income residents and a Freight Plan Addendum that targets air quality in transportation. Locals are also eligible for a tax credit for partial costs related to equipment and labor associated with alternative fuel vehicle conversion and fueling infrastructure.

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Doug Kerr // Flickr

#4. Minneapolis, MN

- Overall score: 69 (out of 100 points)
- Local government score: 6.5 (out of 9; 3 points above national median)
- Community-wide initiatives score: 10.5 (out of 16; 6 points above national median)
- Buildings policies score: 20 (out of 30; 11 points above national median)
- Energy & water utilities score: 12 (out of 15; 6.5 points above national median)
- Transportation policies score: 20 (out of 30; 11.5 points above national median)

Minneapolis comes in with its best showing ever, and the future is bright. By 2025, ACEEE projects Minneapolis will reach its goal of reducing community-wide GHG emissions by 30%. Minneapolis is also one of the lone cities to enact a single-family disclosure policy that requires sellers to disclose energy-use information in house listings.

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Backbone Campaign // Flickr

#3. Seattle, WA

- Overall score: 70 (out of 100 points)
- Local government score: 6 (out of 9; 2.5 points above national median)
- Community-wide initiatives score: 11 (out of 16; 6.5 points above national median)
- Buildings policies score: 22 (out of 30; 13 points above national median)
- Energy & water utilities score: 10 (out of 15; 4.5 points above national median)
- Transportation policies score: 21 (out of 30; 12.5 points above national median)

A Tune-Up Policy mandates that owners of large commercial buildings perform energy assessments and building tune-ups once every five years. Elsewhere, Seattle City Light generated 93% of electricity from renewable sources in 2017. Increasing savings from already existing energy efficiency programs will only further help Seattle’s spot as a top clean energy city.

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Ronnie Macdonald // Flickr

#2. San Francisco, CA

- Overall score: 71.5 (out of 100 points)
- Local government score: 7 (out of 9; 3.5 points above national median)
- Community-wide initiatives score: 7.5 (out of 16; 3 points above national median)
- Buildings policies score: 21.5 (out of 30; 12.5 points above national median)
- Energy & water utilities score: 12 (out of 15; 6.5 points above national median)
- Transportation policies score: 23.5 (out of 30; 15 points above national median)

ACEEE projects that San Francisco will meet a 2025 goal of reducing GHG emissions by 40% from 1990 levels. The city also requires buildings to conduct energy audits or retro-comissioning every five years. With an eye on the future and more efforts to increase energy efficiency in water services and wastewater treatment plants, San Francisco looks like a leader in clean energy future for years to come.

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Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism // Flickr

#1. Boston, MA

- Overall score: 77.5 (out of 100 points)
- Local government score: 7.5 (out of 9; 4 points above national median)
- Community-wide initiatives score: 9.5 (out of 16; 5 points above national median)
- Buildings policies score: 25.5 (out of 30; 16.5 points above national median)
- Energy & water utilities score: 12.5 (out of 15; 7 points above national median)
- Transportation policies score: 22.5 (out of 30; 14 points above national median)

Add another title to Boston’s overstuffed trophy case. Just as the Red Sox and Patriots walked away champions last year, Boston tops our list of cities doing the most for a clean energy future. Already, ACEEE envisions Boston will meet its 2030 goal of reducing GHG emissions 50% from 2016 levels. By next year, Boston also plans to have tree canopy coverage of 35%. After taking the #1 spot in ACEEE’s previous rankings, Boston’s redoubling of efforts to advance clean energy solidified its image as the blueprint for a city with a green future.

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