The U.S. Cities That Waste The Least And The Most Energy

Bostonians are doing the most to use less energy, while Oklahoma City residents are just burning it up.


Is your city trying to save money by saving energy? Take a look at this map to find out. It shows the cities that are conserving energy themselves and pushing along others to do likewise. As you can see, Boston is deemed the most energy-efficient big city in the nation, while Oklahoma City is seen as the least.


The scorecard comes from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, a non-profit group that calculates the scores across five categories: how well cities are reducing their own energy use, what they’re doing to fund community efficiency initiatives (e.g. retrofitting), their policies towards the city building stock, initiatives with energy and water utilities, and transportation.

After Boston, the top 10 most efficient cities are New York, Washington, DC, San Francisco, and Seattle. The most improved cities since the last ranking, in 2013, are Washington, Los Angeles, Chicago, Minneapolis, and Seattle, plus several in the Southwest. The Windy City, for example, is praised for its energy benchmarking scheme for buildings, while L.A. gets marks for its utility’s new 15% energy-efficiency target.

SeattleJon Bilous via Shutterstock

The ACEE says Denver, New York City, and Phoenix have the best operations scores. Boston and New York score highest for their community initiatives. Austin, Atlanta, Fort Worth, and El Paso score well for the efficiency of their water systems.

The report ranges widely, covering many aspects of government policy. For example, the ACEE scores cities on their parking polices. Do they still have “minimum parking requirements” which force developers to set aside space for cars? Cities score higher if they use up land more land for housing and other purposes, encouraging “denser, more-compact development.”

The report points to the cost savings and environmental benefits associated with doing more with less. “Energy efficiency is one of the least expensive, most abundant, and most underused resources for local economic and community development,” it says. “Saving energy can make communities more resilient while protecting human health and the environment.

About the author

Ben Schiller is a New York staff writer for Fast Company. Previously, he edited a European management magazine and was a reporter in San Francisco, Prague, and Brussels.