The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) released the 2013 City Energy Efficiency Scorecard this week, a report that ranks 34 of the most populous U.S. cities on policies to advance energy efficiency. The report includes recommendations and strategies for all cities to lower energy use. The ACEEE also launched a new interactive infographic accompanying the report that highlights each city's best practices and scores.
Boston took top honors, doing the most to save energy. Other top-scoring cities include Portland, OR, New York City, San Francisco, Seattle and Austin. The next tier of top-scoring cities (Washington, DC, Minneapolis, Chicago, Philadelphia and Denver) have also developed efficiency initiatives and are poised to rise in the rankings in future years.
"We couldn't be more proud of our progress in creating a greener, healthier city," said Mayor Thomas M. Menino. "Boston is a world-class city, and we know that our economic prosperity is tied to its 'greenovation,' which has helped create jobs and improve our bottom line. Reducing our energy use is just one smart step in improving the quality of life in Boston and around the world."
"The good news is that cities across the country are saving money, creating local jobs and protecting the environment by implementing energy efficiency measures," said Steven Nadel, ACEEE's executive director.
"Our report shows that cities are laboratories of innovation for energy-saving solutions that directly benefit people where they live, work and play," said Eric Mackres, ACEEE's local policy manager and the report's lead author. "Local governments have great influence over energy use in their communities and many have initiatives that result in significant energy and cost savings."
The report is the first to rank cities exclusively on energy efficiency efforts. Cities are evaluated on what actions they are taking to reduce energy use in five key areas: buildings; transportation; energy and water utility efforts; local government operations; and community-wide initiatives.
- Local leadership and commitment to energy efficiency is strong. With great influence over energy use in their communities, city leaders can implement initiatives that provide benefits where they are most tangible to citizens and businesses, directly improving the community.
- Boston achieved the highest score overall, but other cities led in some policy areas. Portland scored highest in transportation and local government operations. Seattle ranked first in building policies. San Francisco tied with Boston for first in utility public benefits programs, and Austin is the city furthest ahead of its state on energy efficiency policy.
- All cities, even the highest scorers, have significant room for improvement. Boston, the highest scoring city, missed nearly a quarter of possible points. Only 11 cities scored more than half of the possible points. All cities can improve their efficiency initiatives to increase their scores, and several recommendations are offered in the report.
Key recommendations for cities:
- Lead by example by improving efficiency in local government operations and facilities.
- Adopt energy savings goals.
- Actively manage energy use, track and communicate progress toward goals, and enable access to data on energy usage.
- Adopt policies to improve efficiency in new and existing buildings.
- Partner with energy and water utilities to promote and expand energy efficiency programs.
- Adopt policies and programs to lower transportation energy use through location-efficient development and improved access to additional travel mode choices.
Visit EcoWatch’s ENERGY page for more related news on this topic.
Yet another former Trump administration staffer has come out with an endorsement for former Vice President Joe Biden, this time in response to President Donald Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
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By Elliot Douglas
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By D. André Green II
One of nature's epic events is underway: Monarch butterflies' fall migration. Departing from all across the United States and Canada, the butterflies travel up to 2,500 miles to cluster at the same locations in Mexico or along the Pacific Coast where their great-grandparents spent the previous winter.
Millions of People Care About Monarchs<p>I will never forget the sights and sounds the first time I visited monarchs' overwintering sites in Mexico. Our guide pointed in the distance to what looked like hanging branches covered with dead leaves. But then I saw the leaves flash orange every so often, revealing what were actually thousands of tightly packed butterflies. The monarchs made their most striking sounds in the Sun, when they burst from the trees in massive fluttering plumes or landed on the ground in the tussle of mating.</p><p>Decades of educational outreach by teachers, researchers and hobbyists has cultivated a generation of monarch admirers who want to help preserve this phenomenon. This global network has helped restore not only monarchs' summer breeding habitat by planting milkweed, but also general pollinator habitat by planting nectaring flowers across North America.</p><p>Scientists have calculated that restoring the monarch population to a stable level of about 120 million butterflies will require <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/icad.12198" target="_blank">planting 1.6 billion new milkweed stems</a>. And they need them fast. This is too large a target to achieve through grassroots efforts alone. A <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/CCAA.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">new plan</a>, announced in the spring of 2020, is designed to help fill the gap.</p>
Pros and Cons of Regulation<p>The top-down strategy for saving monarchs gained energy in 2014, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service <a href="https://www.fws.gov/southeast/pdf/petition/monarch.pdf" target="_blank">proposed</a> listing them as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. A decision is expected in December 2020.</p><p>Listing a species as endangered or threatened <a href="https://www.fws.gov/endangered/esa-library/pdf/listing.pdf" target="_blank">triggers restrictions</a> on "taking" (hunting, collecting or killing), transporting or selling it, and on activities that negatively affect its habitat. Listing monarchs would impose restrictions on landowners in areas where monarchs are found, over vast swaths of land in the U.S.</p><p>In my opinion, this is not a reason to avoid a listing. However, a "threatened" listing might inadvertently threaten one of the best conservation tools that we have: public education.</p><p>It would severely restrict common practices, such as rearing monarchs in classrooms and back yards, as well as scientific research. Anyone who wants to take monarchs and milkweed for these purposes would have to apply for special permits. But these efforts have had a multigenerational educational impact, and they should be protected. Few public campaigns have been more successful at raising awareness of conservation issues.</p>
<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="91165203d4ec0efc30e4632a00fdf57d"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/KilPRvjbMrA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
The Rescue Attempt<p>To preempt the need for this kind of regulation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approved a <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/pdfs/Monarch%20CCAA-CCA%20Public%20Comment%20Documents/Monarch-Nationwide_CCAA-CCA_Draft.pdf" target="_blank">Nationwide Candidate Conservation Agreement for Monarch Butterflies</a>. Under this plan, "rights-of-way" landowners – energy and transportation companies and private owners – commit to restoring and creating millions of acres of pollinator habitat that have been decimated by land development and herbicide use in the past half-century.</p><p>The agreement was spearheaded by the <a href="http://rightofway.erc.uic.edu/" target="_blank">Rights-of-Way Habitat Working Group</a>, a collaboration between the University of Illinois Chicago's <a href="https://erc.uic.edu/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Energy Resources Center</a>, the Fish and Wildlife Service and over 40 organizations from the energy and transportation sectors. These sectors control "rights-of-way" corridors such as lands near power lines, oil pipelines, railroad tracks and interstates, all valuable to monarch habitat restoration.</p><p>Under the plan, partners voluntarily agree to commit a percentage of their land to host protected monarch habitat. In exchange, general operations on their land that might directly harm monarchs or destroy milkweed will not be subject to the enhanced regulation of the Endangered Species Act – protection that would last for 25 years if monarchs are listed as threatened. The agreement is expected to create up to 2.3 million acres of new protected habitat, which ideally would avoid the need for a "threatened" listing.</p>
A Model for Collaboration<p>This agreement could be one of the few specific interventions that is big enough to allow researchers to quantify its impact on the size of the monarch population. Even if the agreement produces only 20% of its 2.3 million acre goal, this would still yield nearly half a million acres of new protected habitat. This would provide a powerful test of the role of declining breeding and nectaring habitat compared to other challenges to monarchs, such as climate change or pollution.</p><p>Scientists hope that data from this agreement will be made publicly available, like projects in the <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/MCD.html" target="_blank">Monarch Conservation Database</a>, which has tracked smaller on-the-ground conservation efforts since 2014. With this information we can continue to develop powerful new models with better accuracy for determining how different habitat factors, such as the number of milkweed stems or nectaring flowers on a landscape scale, affect the monarch population.</p><p>North America's monarch butterfly migration is one of the most awe-inspiring feats in the natural world. If this rescue plan succeeds, it could become a model for bridging different interests to achieve a common conservation goal.</p>
The annual Ig Nobel prizes were awarded Thursday by the science humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research for scientific experiments that seem somewhat absurd, but are also thought-provoking. This was the 30th year the awards have been presented, but the first time they were not presented at Harvard University. Instead, they were delivered in a 75-minute pre-recorded ceremony.