On November 12th, Boston will be releasing its draft 2014 Climate Action Plan Update for public comment. The plan outlines goals, targets, strategies and actions for reaching its carbon reduction and climate preparedness goals. In this blog series, we’ll be walking you through various aspects of the plan--starting with the goals and targets, then diving into the chapters on Neighborhoods, Large Buildings and Institutions, Transportation, Climate Preparedness, and 80 x 2050--and demonstrate how we can collectively achieve Boston’s climate goals.

Join us November 17 at New England Aquarium at 6:30 PM for Mayor Walsh's Civic Academy to learn more and provide feedback on the Climate Action Plan. 

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After a year of analysis, public meetings and online engagement, we've arrived at six strategies and 27 neighborhood actions. In addition to dealing with public health, equity, waste, and community empowerment, these strategies will reduce our carbon footprint by 7% between 2015 and 2020--or 1.33 million metric tons of CO2e, for those who prefer absolutes. These reductions are what our smaller residential buildings and commercial spaces--everything from triple deckers to small businesses--must achieve.

So how are we going to do it? Most of our reductions will come from home energy efficiency. By 2020, we need to increase the rate at which we are weatherizing our homes by 50%--or again, for those who are counting--we need to complete 70,000 energy audits, 36,000 home weatherizations or other major energy efficiency upgrades, and transition all oil heating systems (the most carbon intensive fuel) to something better than oil.

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(After accommodating growth of approximately 20,000 people, we will need 70,000 home energy audits, 36,000 home weatherizations or other major energy efficiency upgrades, and we must phase out all oil heat.)

The graph below shows how we must accelerate home energy actions year over year to reach our goal. First level actions include an home energy assessment (HEA) or special home visit (SHV) by an energy professional (you can schedule one today by calling 617-536-SAVE). Second-level actions, which happen after a HEA or SHV, includes home weatherization (Wx) or other major energy efficiency upgrades.

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(First vs. second level home energy actions must accelerate to reach our 2020 goal. The increase in 2012 was the result of additional funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).)

The good news is, you have a big role in helping us reach our goals. Sign up for your no-cost energy assessment through Renew Boston, or check out other deals through MassSave to increase your home's (or apartment's--renters too can take action!) energy efficiency. And with energy prices rising as much as 30% this year, there has never been a better time to make your home more energy efficient.

Chances are, if you are reading our blog, you are ahead of the curve and already have a super efficient home. Before you sit back and relax, note that the most effective outreach strategy for home weatherization is word of mouth. So start yapping. Tell your co-workers, your neighbors or the stranger sitting next to you on the T about how much you are saving now that your home is better insulated. If you don't have a story to share, share Patricia's of East Boston or Elizabeth's of Dorchester, both who already enjoying the comfort and savings of a weatherized home, and are helping spread the word.

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(Source: Renew Boston Residential Energy Efficiency Program Evaluation Report)

So now that we have a strategy to reach our 2020 goal, how about that 80% reduction by 2050 goal? The 2014 Climate Action Plan Update has an entire chapter dedicated to starting to think about this long-term goal, which we'll dive into later in this series. However, we do know that we are going to need a transformation of our city's environmental consciousness and awareness, and that is exactly why the Neighborhoods chapter focuses on education and engagement, especially among our youth.

So check out our draft strategies and actions for the Neighborhoods sector. Is there anything that you don't think should be included? Anything missing? Rank your top strategies and provide your comments.


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