Last week, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) released its 2019 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard. The scorecard ranks states based on the policies and programs they have in place on energy efficiency and clean energy.
For the third year in a row, Massachusetts is ranked number one, closely followed by California at number two. Maryland is 2019’s most improved state—largely due to new statewide targets for utilities.
Overall, the scorecard highlights how 2019 was an exciting year for state progress in the clean energy and energy efficiency areas. Five states—Nevada, New Mexico, Washington, New York and Maine—adopted goals of generating all power from carbon-free sources. California and Hawaii have already made similar commitments.
In the building sector, the scorecard awards up to two points for state leadership-by-example policies addressing energy use in state buildings, including those using third-party certifications, such as LEED. The scorecard shows 35 states have above-code requirements for new and existing state buildings. Above-code requirements can have a huge impact on state energy and climate goals, because state-owned buildings are often the single largest energy consumers in a state, and consumption often represents a significant portion of a state’s annual operating budget.
Notably, two of the top 10, Washington and New York, passed ambitious legislation in 2019 that addressed the importance of energy efficiency in new and existing buildings to meet state climate goals. In Washington, the Clean Energy Transformation Act includes a requirement for the state to establish energy performance standards for large existing commercial buildings and to provide technical and financial assistance to building owners to meet these standards. In New York, as part of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, the state will craft regulations to implement emissions reductions targets across multiple sectors, including buildings.
Several states also took action in 2019 to strengthen their statewide building energy codes, adopting the latest International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) code version. Some of the states that have adopted the 2018 IECC are Illinois, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Texas.
ACEEE developed the scorecards to "give state-level policymakers a road map for building stronger and more resilient communities." Plus, a little friendly competition never hurts. The scorecards are a great resource, providing a benchmark of state energy policy and progress. The scorecard uses a 50-point scale across six categories, helping the reader drill down into areas where a given state can benefit from improvements, as well as highlighting areas in which the state is a top performer.