News and analysis about energy in California with an eye toward renewables.

San Francisco Most Energy-Efficient California City

34 American cities ranked in order of energy efficiency | Photo: American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy/Flickr/Creative Commons License

San Francisco is the most energy-efficient city in the state, according to a new ranking by a national energy efficiency advocacy group, and ties with New York City for third-most efficient city nationwide. But the rest of California's cities didn't do so well in the ranking.

The 2013 City Energy Efficiency Scorecard, released this week by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), ranked Boston, Massachusetts and Portland, Oregon as the nation's top two energy-efficient cities based on their achievements in energy efficiency in transportation, building codes, utilities, government operations, and similar areas.

Meanwhile, the rest of the California cities considered in the scorecard did much more poorly. Los Angeles turned out with a positively abysmal rating, coming in at number 28 of the 34 cities ranked, a significantly worse showing than cities such as Houston, Dallas, Phoenix, and Atlanta that are not known for their commitment to energy conservation.

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Other California cities ranked in the scorecard include Sacramento (which took 18th place), San Diego at number 20, and San Jose and Riverside which tied for 21st place. Los Angeles was saved from a more ignominious rank on the scorecard by relatively strong water conservation policies, but fared especially poorly in the Local Government Operations category. Of the 34 cities examined by ACEEE, only Detroit and Jacksonville, Florida did worse than Los Angeles at making government operations less wasteful.

Not that San Francisco can rest on its bay laurels. As the ACEEE points out in its press release announcing the study:

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.

The fact that all the California cities examined other than San Francisco did worse overall than Phoenix, Houston, Dallas, and Atlanta ought to provide a bit of impetus to get those improvements going.


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About the Author

Chris Clarke is a natural history writer and environmental journalist currently at work on a book about the Joshua tree. He lives in Joshua Tree.
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