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Study: Seattle One of Top Cities for Energy Efficiency in U.S.

American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy

Seattle is one of the most energy-efficient cities in the U.S., according to a new study by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), a Washington, D.C.-based research group. 

The study ranked cities based on their scores in several categories: local government operations, community-wide initiatives, building policies, utility policies and public benefits programs, and transportation policies.

Seattle, with a score of 65.25 out of 100, ranked fifth. Eric Mackres, the study's lead author, said Seattle's publicly-owned electrical utility contributed to the city's high score by providing households with energy-efficient light bulbs and other programs that cut energy use.

"Seattle City Light has been a leading municipal utility in the country that's achieving high levels of energy savings," he said. 

Boston topped the list with 76.75 points, followed by Portland, Ore., which earned 70 points. New York and San Francisco tied for third with 69.75 points each. Austin, Tex. came in sixth with 62 points.

These top six “leaders in energy efficiency” all “currently have broad-ranging efficiency policies and programs and also have a significant history of implementing efficiency initiatives,” the study said.

Seattle earned the highest ranking in the building code category. The study lauded Seattle and other leaders for adopting stringent building codes, and establishing requirements and incentives for energy-efficient buildings.

On the other hand, Seattle rated only 14th in transportation efficiency, behind cities like Atlanta and Dallas. 

While praising the leaders, the study also highlighted the potential for overall improvement.

“A wide gap exists between the cities at the top of the Scorecard rankings and those near the bottom, and even the highest-scoring cities did not come close to earning the total possible points overall,” the study said.

The highest-ranking cities have developed strategies but are still working to improve implementation, the study added.

The study also contrasted the successful efforts being made in cities with the lack of action from Congress. Right now, a bi-partisan energy-efficiency bill is stalled in the Senate, where it has been weighed down by controversial amendments on health care and other unrelated subjects.

Liam Moriarty started with KPLU in 1996 as our freelance correspondent in the San Juan Islands. He’s been our full-time Environment Reporter since November, 2006. In between, Liam was News Director at Jefferson Public Radio in Ashland, Oregon for three years and reported for a variety of radio, print and web news sources in the Northwest. He's covered a wide range of environment issues, from timber, salmon and orcas to oil spills, land use and global warming. Liam is an avid sea kayaker, cyclist and martial artist.