Boston - Greenovate Boston

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Challenges

The underlying challenge was to increase public engagement with and participation in these programmes. Even those programmes that were having initial success recognised that public participation often reaches a plateau and it can be difficult to expand participation beyond a certain core constituency. The GB umbrella brand fostered cross-marketing and allowed programmes to easily reach out.

Internally, GB allowed programme managers with their own outreach efforts to use their resources more effectively by taking advantage of a common platform and brand. Finally, GB was designed to ensure that constituents were not just targets of outreach, but active contributors to the content of the GB program

Actions

GB encapsulates the high-level climate goals established by the Mayor, namely:

  • 25% GHG reduction below 2005 levels by 2020 and 80% GHG reduction by 2050;
  • In terms of climate vulnerability, GB, in partnership with emergency management and public health offices, has conducted significant outreach to residents about individual emergency plans and ways to make residences less vulnerable to flooding and other hazards.

 

In the 2014 GB Climate Action Plan Update, the City established some sub-goals for 2020, including, for example: 36,000 additional residential weatherization and significant energy upgrades, 10 MW additional solar capacity on commercial buildings, and a 5.5% reduction in Vehicle Miles Travelled below 2005 levels.

 

Specific goals and achievements include:

  • The GB/Solarize Boston programme aimed to incentivise residential PV. In a six-month period in 2012, this programme led to 116 residential projects with a combined capacity of 522 kW.
  • The relaunch of the GB website with a beautiful new platform features a community calendar where community members and staff post sustainability related events, resource pages, and news section to keep people informed and engaged.
  • Project Oscar, Boston's Community Compost Drop-off Programme, diverted over 5250 pounds of food waste from landfills in a nine week period during 2015 and has now been extended to three new sites
  • The Renew Boston Whole Building Incentive Initiative in partnership with  National Grid and Eversource significantly reduces the cost of energy efficiency improvements in two and three family homes through the Mass Save Home Energy Services to Boston residents.  The City worked very closely with the local utility companies to come up with the Whole Building incentive to address the challenges of the split incentive between the landlord and renter for making energy efficiency improvements.
  • The Carbon Cup is a recognition program for large buildings who reduce their energy use
  • Idle-Free Boston Campaign aims to educate and encourage drivers to not idle their vehicle engines. In a big city like Boston, the unnecessary fumes are a hazard to public health and contribute to GHG emissions.
  • The Annual Climate Summit where community members come together to discuss pressing sustainability issues with speakers, and discussion groups

Projected Outcomes

  • Community building: GB established strong relationships with other City departments and community organisations to help build capacity and unify more Bostonians around common goals and interests. This is epitomised by public art events sponsored by GB and residents taking climate actions that fit their personal situations, regardless of socioeconomic status.

 

  • Cost savings: The Taste the Tap campaign resulted in up to $1,400 saved per year per person by drinking tap water instead of bottled water; highlighting sustainability champions with the Greenovate Boston Awards boosts local businesses; planning for emergencies and minimising their impact reduces economic vulnerability, especially for small businesses.

 

  • Increased participation in other government programmes: the variety of resources and actions offered allow people of various socio-economic statuses to participate.

 

Greenovate Boston is already a city-wide programme. However, the City is still taking steps to solidify and extend its reach and impact. The City of Boston recognises the value of Greenovate and has created two permanent GB positions. GB also innovates with pilot programmes with the goal of providing a product or service that will raise brand awareness, drive behaviour change, and eventually, be transferred to another operations department, if successful.