Boston, MA: Energy performance

Cumulative (vs. Baseline)17%
Annual (2018)5%

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 300 buildings and 16 million square feet. Boston has improved energy performance by 18% from a 2011 baseline, making progress towards a goal of 20% by 2023. To date, the City of Boston has funded all energy conservation projects from capital budgets (lighting retrofits, HVAC upgrades, Building Automation Systems/controls). Energy efficiency projects must compete for capital funding with all other major departmental needs. Through the Renew Boston Trust program, the city plans to engage in large-scale energy performance contracts to drastically increase energy efficiency investment and aggresively drive down municipal building EUIs.


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 made substantial progress in converting  66,000 electric 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. By moving towards a holistic whole-building approach through performance contracting, the city can invest more intelligently, and understand interdependencies of different building systems.


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 tow-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.