May 11, 2017

Study: Hartford needs to boost energy efficiency

Hartford is one of five cities most in need of energy efficiency improvements, according to a study released Thursday by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), but the city's mayor said he is actively working on several improvements.

The ACEEE is a nonprofit that works to advance energy efficiency policies, programs, technologies, investments, and behaviors.

In its third City Energy Efficiency Scorecard, the nonprofit listed Hartford, ranked No. 47, among five cities that need the most change. The others are Memphis, Detroit, Oklahoma City and Birmingham.

Hartford fared poorly in all areas except energy and water utilities. The areas in greatest need of improvement are: local government operations, community-wide initiatives, buildings policies and transportation.

"The energy utilities serving Hartford administer energy efficiency programs that are moderately funded, but the city has enacted few energy efficiency policies," the report found.

Actions that could help include developing a community-wide energy savings goal, advocating for more-stringent building energy codes, and creating a sustainable transportation plan to reduce vehicle miles traveled citywide, the ACEEE recommends.

Mayor Luke Bronin said Thursday via email that the city is making progress. In April, the city launched a new microgrid that will reduce carbon emissions by 40 percent at connected buildings. Later this year, Hartford will provide access to solar power for residents. And Bronin said he is seeing to it that every area of ACEEE report is addressed.

Through the hiring of a new, 100-percent grant-funded sustainability coordinator, the city will responsibly address critical energy efficiency and environmental conservation issues in partnership with the Climate Stewardship Council, Bronin said.

"Our goal is to save taxpayer dollars while making Hartford a more resilient, responsible city that's leading the way in local environmental sustainability," he said.

Boston remains the top U.S .city for energy efficiency, followed by New York City and Seattle.

More cities are requiring building owners to benchmark and report buildings' energy use, updating building energy codes, and setting community-wide goals to save energy and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, ACEEE senior researcher David Ribeiro said.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been updated to reflect the city's response to the report.

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