Local Government Leading: City of Boston

By Better Buildings Beat Team on Nov 28, 2018

This installment of the Local Government Leading blog series highlights the City of Boston, Massachusetts.

In addition to being a Better Buildings Challenge partner, Boston was recently selected as a winner of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ American Cities Climate Challenge. Boston was selected because of the city’s innovative and ambitious Greenovate Boston 2014 Climate Action Plan Update. The plan serves as Boston’s blueprint for reaching its goals of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 25% by 2020 and by 80% – as well as becoming carbon neutral – by 2050. The plan aims to reform the transit and buildings sectors – two areas traditionally responsible for 80% of all citywide GHG emissions in Boston.

As a winner of the Climate Challenge, Boston will receive technical assistance valued at up to $2.5 million. Bloomberg Philanthropies will work with the city through its acceleration program to accomplish the following actions by 2020:

  • Grow the Go Boston 2030 program to create safe and stress-free walking and biking in the areas that need them most;
  • Reduce single-occupancy car use and support electric vehicle adoption to make low-carbon transportation the mode of choice for residents and commuters alike;
  • Provide Boston’s commercial and institutional buildings access to innovative project finance programs to improve their energy performance;
  • Help large buildings to benefit from existing energy performance incentives and cutting-edge technologies;
  • Build workforce development programs and an energy resource center with an emphasis on serving low-income communities.


These actions are aligned with the goals outlined in Boston’s Climate Action Plan, including the following 2020 goals:

  • Increase bike commute mode share from 2% to 10% and reach nearly 200 miles of bike lanes;
  • Reduce vehicle miles traveled 5.5% below 2005 levels;
  • Cut energy consumption across 120 million square feet of buildings covered by Boston’s Building Energy Reporting and Disclosure Ordinance by 7%.


Through a separate, voluntary commitment to the Better Buildings Challenge, Boston has also set a goal of a 20% energy use reduction across its 16 million-square-foot portfolio by 2023. The City of Boston uses an Enterprise Energy Management System (EEMS) to track progress toward its energy and climate goals, identify opportunities to reduce energy consumption, and verify energy savings. Utilizing data from the EEMS, the city’s Municipal Energy Unit helps city departments effectively identify, plan, finance, and complete energy efficiency projects across the entire municipal enterprise.

Through 2017, Boston achieved an 18% improvement in energy performance compared to its 2011 baseline year.  The city is well positioned to meet its Better Buildings Challenge goal by continuing its data-driven approach coupled with plans to engage in large-scale energy performance contracts to drastically increase energy efficiency investment and aggressively drive down municipal building energy use through its recently launched Renew Boston Trust program.

Through its innovative programs and ambitious goal-setting, Boston continues to demonstrate leadership as it secures a healthier, more sustainable environment and economy for its residents.

Be sure to check out our previous Local Government Leading installments featuring the City of Seattle, District of Columbia, City of Philadelphia, and City of Los Angeles.