Tuesday, April 12, 2011

American Cities Get Smart About Energy

With the national average price for a gallon of gasoline topping $3.79 this week, many people are beginning to cut back on driving or are finding cheaper means of transportation.

Cities all across the US are starting to get creative with cheaper methods of transportation. The National Resource Defense Council (NRDC) has named 22 US cities as "2010 Smarter Cities" for their investment in green power and energy efficient measures.

Some of the criteria include:

Electricity consumption (kWh) per capita: Pursuing this figure for each city was an exciting step forward in understanding city level energy use and behavior. However, obtaining these numbers proved to be highly complicated. Because metropolitan area population data were not available for all cities in this study, and because reporting on consumption was bounded differently by different respondents (government use only vs. total city use, municipal boundary vs. metropolitan boundary vs. county boundary based on data availability), this figure is a first cut estimate of per-capita consumption only. City population, rather than metropolitan area population, was used to create the figures presented.

EPA Defined Green Power: Building from the EPA definition, cities were asked to report on the percentage of their power that is generated using solar, wind, geothermal, biogas, biomass and small hydro capability.

Innovation: Finally, cities were asked to share any innovative approaches to energy management, consumption and production they had developed. For this category, no threshold was developed because of the wide variety of responses. These data will help inform the final picks for top performers.

The cities, classified according to size, are:

2010 Smarter Cities for Energy -

Large (population > 250,000)

Austin, TX

Boston, MA

Chicago, IL

Columbus, Ohio

Dallas, TX

El Paso, TX

Long Beach, CA

New York, NY

Oakland, CA

Portland, OR

San Francisco, CA

Seattle, WA

Medium (pop. between 100,00 - 249,999)

Berkeley, CA

Fort Collins, CO

Huntington Beach, CA

Reno, NV

Springfield, IL

Santa Clarita, CA

Small (Pop. < 100,000)

Beaverton, OR

Denton, TX

Dubuque, IA

Santa Cruz, CA

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