Boston tops in energy efficiency, ranking shows

In a brand new ranking of the most populous US cities by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, Boston has been named the most energy efficient.

The council, a nonprofit advocacy group in Washington, has rated states for the past several years, but this is the first time the organization has applied its criteria to cities, judging them on policies, government operations, community-wide initiatives, and utility programs. Thirty-four cities were ranked, with Boston beating out Portland, Ore., New York City, San Francisco, and Seattle.

“I always believed that mayors have a responsibility to push the envelope on reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” said Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino. “That’s why I created aggressive greenhouse gas emissions goals.”

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While Boston scored well across the board, the council said, the state was set apart by community initiatives like Renew Boston, a network of energy efficiency and alternative energy providers that coordinate efforts to help the city achieve its energy goals. Those goals include reducing electricity usage by 200 megawatts by 2017, and cutting greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

Boston’s top ranking by the council solidifies the state’s leadership on energy efficiency. Last year, the council ranked Massachusetts the most energy efficient state for the second year in a row. California held the top spot for the first four years of the council’s ranking, with Massachusetts in the second position in 2009 and 2010. State rankings for 2013 have not yet been released.