This past Tuesday, Mayor Menino announced that the City of Boston’s municipal buildings and operations had reduced carbon emissions by approximately 26%, or about 51,000 metric tons.

That’s a big deal, and knocks off 1% of the Boston’s community-wide 2020 goal of a 25% reduction. What’s even more impressive is that most of those reductions happened in a span of four years.

How’d we do it?

The key to the City of Boston’s GHG reductions has been a steady adoption of sustainability principles across all municipal operations. Like clockwork, the development of the municipal goals has come in tandem with a series of key events that publicly declared the importance of greenhouse gas reductions:

  • 2007: Mayor Menino signs the Executive Order to green municipal operations.
  • 2009: With increasing awareness and support for energy efficiency, Public Works Department, begins replacing streetlights with LED bulbs, which has accounted for the majority of the savings since 2009.
  • 2010: The Municipal Energy Unit (MEU) is established by federal grant funding, devoting two staff members to tackling greenhouse gas emissions via energy efficiency projects and renewable energy certificate purchases.
  • 2011: the City sets a formal municipal goal in conjunction with its community-wide goal for attaining a 25% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.
  • 2011: the MEU is brought on as permanent staff because of value add: efficiency has saved the City over $2 million over the past four years.


Savings are everywhere

As the City gains more experience with energy efficiency, more and more opportunities are being identified. LED streetlights, for example, paid themselves back in a year. Boston Public Schools installed 29 combined heat and power units, a highly efficient technology that heats buildings by re-using hot steam.

As the first generation of projects have proved themselves, the City is realizing that energy efficiency opportunities are everywhere. Going forward, a new system that tracks energy use across buildings will be able to pinpoint energy savings opportunities.

Community emissions

If the City can achieve so many savings, Boston residents, businesses, and institutions can do it too! As we update the Greenovate Boston: Climate Action Plan for 2014, we’ll be exploring new ways of making sure that everyone can reduce their energy and greenhouse gas footprint. Share your ideas at

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