Boston has created a detailed map that tracks hourly building energy use in order to show patterns of energy demand and assess the feasibility of potential local generation.

The Challenge

Boston aims to supply 15% of its energy through combined heat and power by 2020 and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2020. The energy map project is crucial to achieving these goals as it provides a better understanding of the city’s energy use and identifies opportunities for local energy supply while reducing the vulnerabilities of communities and businesses.

The Solution

As part of the Boston Community Energy Study, the city developed one of the most detailed city energy maps in existence in order to scope where local clean energy generation, district energy, and microgrids are feasible at a community scale. The map tracks the hourly energy use of 85,000 buildings in Boston, including commercial buildings, affordable housing, and critical facilities like shelters and food warehouses. With a 94% accuracy level for detecting electricity consumption, the map also takes into consideration hypothetical engineering solutions and assesses the feasibility of local clean energy generation. Using this information, potential projects are assessed according to their contribution to community resilience, energy costs, and greenhouse gas emissions reduction. To date, the map has pinpointed 42 districts where renewable energy supply is feasible. The city plans to reach out to communities and partner with energy utilities in the second step of the project in order to realize community energy solutions. Boston will work with a local electric utility to study its first pilot project, a multi-user microgrid in the city’s industrial park.

Environmental Benefits – By tailoring local clean energy generation to fit demand, multi-user microgrids can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 15%.

Social Benefits – The project aims to educate residents and businesses in Boston on the potential for district energy and microgrids, especially those located in areas where community energy solutions are suitable.

Economic Benefits – An analysis of potential projects calculated a return on investment of $629 million when CO2 reductions were optimized.

About Cities100

In its second year, Cities100 – presented by C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40), Sustainia and Realdania – showcases leading solutions to urban climate challenges in ten sectors, ranging from solid waste management to transportation. For the first time, this year’s publication features solutions that address the nexus of climate change and social equity.

Available online and in print, Cities100 provides stakeholders an accessible format to explore achievable solutions for climate action in cities, and will be a useful tool for relevant groups ranging from impact investors and development organizations, to mayors and city governments.  You can access the full Cities100 2016 publication online here and read more about how may­ors will de­liver the aims of the Paris Agree­ment in a fore­ward by Anne Hidalgo, C40 Chair and Mayor of Paris, here.

  • Economic
  • Environmental
  • Social
Key Impact
21% reduction in CO2 emissions can be achieved through the uptake of sustainable housing microgrids
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