Boston, MA: Energy performance

Cumulative (vs. Baseline)12%
Annual (2021)0%

Better Buildings Challenge Partners strive to decrease portfolio-wide source energy use intensity (EUI) and to increase the percent improvement compared to a set baseline. Boston's portfolio consists of more than 250 buildings and 16 million square feet. *Boston has improved energy performance by 12% from a 2011 baseline. Energy consumption during 2020 was significantly lower than a typical year since COVID-19 disruptions resulted in temporary building closures and reduced occupancy for much of the year. Renew Boston Trust - the City's Energy Savings Performance Contract program - continues to make significant energy efficiency and decarbonization investments across the City's portfolio of buildings. The current phase of construction has converted the primary source of heating in six Fire Department Engine Houses from gas boilers to air-source heat pumps. In future phases, the City will begin investing in decarbonizing and improving the ventilation of Boston Public Schools. The City is also developing a plan to improve the efficiency of all 70,000+ streetlights under its jurisdiction. 


Looking at the percent improvement in energy performance across all properties can provide insight into how an organization is saving energy. Boston's approach to energy efficiency has been largely focused on individual assets, rather than whole-building retrofits. The city has replaced approximately 75% of streetlights to LEDs, which is a perfect example of a 1-for-1 equipment replacement. Likewise, most building efficiency projects have been one-off activities, such as additional points on a BMS or LED spotlighting in lobbies, which rely on capital budgets and utility incentives. Boston's energy performance contracting has become institutionalized. The city is planning to spend roughly $20 million in Phase 2, which has a preliminary annual savings of 1,238,288 kWh, 63,682 therms, 2,345 gallons of Fuel Oil #2, and 2,084 kgal. Buildings in Phase 3 have tentatively been selected and will include 15 buildings (largely schools). The City of Boston, through the Renew Boston Trust, will explore geothermal retrofits for the first time in municipal buildings in Phase 3.


Property-level energy performance metrics, including EUI and percent improvement to date, are critical to track progress over time and identify opportunties for additional energy savings. Of the city's 300+ buildings, over two-thirds of the 16 million square feet belong to Boston Public Schools. A substantial portion of these schools are pre-war buildings and do not have cooling, resulting in relatively low EUIs. There are also a subset of 70's vintage buildings, which tend to be less efficient and represent the largest opportunities for energy conservation measures.