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Boston Businesses Reduce Electricity Use by 7%

Boston firms participating in the Challenge for Sustainability have lowered their collective electricity consumption by seven percent in three years, the program says.

Since its inception in 2009, the Challenge has incentivized energy and waste audits and coordinated the exchange of best practices to help participants reduce their combined electricity consumption from 400 GWh each year to 371 GWh.

In 2012 participants saved $5.7 million in electricity costs, 178 tons of waste, 22 million pounds of steam and enough water to fill 15 Olympic swimming pools, according to the program. Overall greenhouse emissions fell 4 percent from 2011 figures.

“A Better City’s Challenge for Sustainability works with the commercial real estate sector to facilitate reductions in energy use and the sector’s impact on the environment,” said Richard Dimino, President and CEO of A Better City. “The program has proven to be a win-win — good business and economics, while positioning Boston and its commercial real estate as sustainability leaders.”

The program is run by the non-profit A Better City and includes member organizations such as the New England Aquarium, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, Citizens Bank and the headquarters of Au Bon Pain and Blue Cross-Blue Shield. The program’s services also are available to small businesses in the City of Boston’s Main Streets program.

In total, the Challenge covers more than 30 million square feet of commercial space and 80,000 employees.

A Better City’s sustainability coordinators help program participants develop sustainability action plans using an online scorecard system for benchmarking and tracking initiatives and resources. The organization says in 2012, participants adopted a total of 560 new practices, including electric-vehicle charging stations, energy audits, single-stream recycling, water management plans and sleep features on computers.

“The Challenge for Sustainability is an incredible resource benefiting not only the businesses and institutions of Boston, but also the residents who value cleaner air and proactive climate leadership,” said Michael Mooney, Chairman of Nutter, McClennen & Fish and Vice Chairman of the Boston Green Ribbon Commission. “The program is a model for how cities nationwide can assist property owners in reducing their environmental impacts and operating costs.”

The Challenge says it added 25 new members for 2013, including the Dana-Farber Cancer Center, Hancock Tower and Seaport World Trade Center, bringing the total number of participants to 100.


Mike Hower is a writer, thinker, and strategic communicator most interested in the intersection of sustainable business and policy. Currently based in Washington, D.C., he is a graduate research fellow at George Washington University, where he is pursuing a masters… [Read more about Mike Hower]