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New York City Becomes The Most Energy Efficient City In ACEEE Scorecard 2020

For achieving a clean energy future and cut down the greenhouse has emissions, many leading US cities have been striving hard to meet the goal. The American Council for an Energy Efficiency Economy (ACEEE) analysed 100 cities, and New York City emerged as a leader bagging the #1 position in the annual scorecard for the first time in 2020. NYC with their clean energy initiatives including local laws, energy code and incentive programs were able to score 77.5 points out of 100.

Boston and Seattle were tied for the second position with 73 points, and Minneapolis and San Francisco were tied for the fourth position with 72.5 points. The scorecard found out that out of 100 analysed cities, only 63 cities have GHG reduction goals, while only one-fifth (20) cities were on track with their goal.

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The annual ACEEE scorecard rates the energy efficiency performance of cities based on the following 5 main areas, with the maximum achievable score of 100:

Local Government Operations – 10 points
Community Wide Initiatives – 15 points
Energy and Water Utilities – 15 points
Building Policies – 30 points
Transportation Policies – 30 points

Let’s take a look at how NYC scored in all the 5 categories

Local Government Operations – 6.5 out of 10

The following is the breakdown on the NYC’s total score in this category

Climate and Energy Goals – 1 out of 4
Procurement and Construction Policies – 3 out of 3.5
Asset Management – 2.5 out of 2.5

NYC had an impressive score in procurement and construction policies, and asset management. However, NYC lacks in the climate and energy goals targeting government operations in particular.

Austin and Boston were the top performers in Local Government Operations with a score of 8 out of 10.

Community Wide Initiatives – 8 out of 15

The following is the breakdown on the NYC’s total score in this category

Climate and Energy Goals – 2 out of 8
Energy and Date Reporting – 1 out of 1
Equity Driven Planning – 1 out of 1.5
Distributed Energy Systems – 2.5 out of 3
Urban Heat Island Mitigation – 1.5 out of 1.5

NYC has an intermediate score in this category with climate and energy goals being the main area of improvement. Washington DC, by adopting many GHG mitigation and clean energy goals, was the leading city in this category with a score of 11.5.

Energy and Water Utilities – 10.5 out of 15

The following is the breakdown on the NYC’s total score in this category

Efficiency Efforts – 6 out of 8
Renewable Efforts – 1 out of 3
Water Services – 3.5 out of 4

Based on recent studies, NYC has been adopting enhanced energy efficiency and renewable energy initiative measures which could potentially improve the ranking in these aspects. Boston, Chula Vista, San Diego and Minneapolis were all tied at the first spot with an impressive score of 13.5 points.

Building Policies – 28.5 out of 30

NYC excelled in this category with an almost perfect score. For comparison, Seattle took the second spot with a score of 22.5 points.

The following is the breakdown on the NYC’s total score in this category

Building Energy Code Adoption – 8.5 out of 9
Code Compliance and Enforcement – 4 out of 4
Existing Buildings – 15 out of 15
Workforce Development – 1 out of 2

NYC buildings are said to have an excellent energy performance profile even though the NYC energy codes are among the most demanding, not only in US but also globally. The Local Law 97 of 2019, which set a emission limit for buildings over 25,000 sq. ft. helped NYC achieve this impressive feat. LL97 will affect over 75% of the NYC buildings by 2030.

Transportation Policies – 24 out of 30

The transportation policies in New York City is the second strongest performance aspect after building policies. San Francisco topped in this category with a score of 25.5 points, and Washington DC took the second place with 24.5 points. NYC and Portland are tied for the third spot.

The following is the breakdown on the NYC’s total score in this category

Sustainable Transportation – 4 out of 4
Location Efficiency – 4.5 out of 6
Mode Shift – 4.5 out of 7
Public transit – 4 out of 4
Efficient Vehicles – 1 out of 4
Freight – 2 out of 2
Equitable Transportation – 3 out of 3
Congestion Pricing – 1 bonus point

The main area of improvement for NYC in this category is adopting more efficient vehicles. With the city promoting transportation modes other than private vehicles, the mode shift score could also be considerable improved.


With NYC having over a million buildings coupled with excellent building policies, the city is at the top in terms of energy efficiency and clean energy. New York City took a huge leap from 6th position in 2019 to the top position in 2020 after adopting and implementing many policies.

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