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Boston vs. New York: which city is greener?

Boston green powerLast week, I gave much love to the city of New York (see Green, New York Style, March 15th). Today it’s time to drive some good spirited competition into the mix, based on the following press release I received this morning. It was titled simply, “Boston Rules.” The full, very concise text read as follows, “HEY NEW YORK, YOU SUCK! YOUR GREEN INITIATIVES ARE MALACHITE COLOR, AT BEST! LOSERS. Love, Boston.”

Malachite, as I found out later, is a light shade of green.

All kidding aside, Beantown has made some impressive strides for sustainability. A group called A Better City has launched an aggressive sustainability campaign to engage Boston businesses in reducing their footprint, and it seems to be working. Its goals:

  1. Educate and inform business and institution decision-makers about climate change and sustainability
  2. Make Boston widely recognized as a national environmental leader
  3. Help participants reduce their carbon footprint and become more sustainable
  4. Support the Climate Action Plans of Massachusetts, and the Cities of Boston and Cambridge
  5. Enhance the visibility and recognition of ABC members as leaders in addressing climate change & sustainability

Thanks to the support of a couple of foundations, the program offers the following benefits to businesses participating. Free energy audits (facilities under 300kWh), coordinated rebate assistance, free technical assistance, workshops and trainings, discounted waste audits, access to online toolkits, and…what every business wants: recognition.

So far, according to their website:

Since 2010, Challenge for Sustainability participants have collectively implemented 1000 best practices which have realized a reduction of 18 gigawatts of electricity (2 million homes), 42 million gallons of water (70 Olympic Pools) and 128 tons of solid waste. 

This has saved Boston businesses $5.7 million and 178 tons of waste just last year alone. And according to the city’s Sustainability Programs Coordinator Megan Ramey,

The City of Boston achieving EPA Green Power Community status would mean different things to me depending on which of four hats I’m wearing.  As a youngish resident, I would take great pride that Boston was listed among America’s most sustainable cities like Portland, Washington, and Philadelphia and that we would have no problems attracting young, innovative talent that drives future economies.  As a program manager, I would be thrilled that the Challenge for Sustainability helped the City accomplish a very tangible recognition and that by engaging the commercial real estate and business sectors, we were able contribute to the City’s achievement, not to mention increase property value for any homes for sale in Boston.  As an environmental advocate, I think it’s very important to rally the troups in a positive, “carrot holding” way and recognition is one of the most powerful tools for environmental change.  And finally, as a competitor, I desperately want to beat New York City at something, and if Boston got the EPA Green Power Community status before them would be huge!

Game on, New York.

Find out more here.


Written by Scott Cooney

Scott Cooney (twitter: scottcooney) is an adjunct professor of Sustainability in the MBA program at the University of Hawai'i, green business startup coach, author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill), and developer of the sustainability board game GBO Hawai'i. Scott has started, grown and sold two mission-driven businesses, failed miserably at a third, and is currently in his fourth. Scott's current company has three divisions: a sustainability blog network that includes the world's biggest clean energy website and reached over 5 million readers in December 2013 alone; Pono Home, a turnkey and franchiseable green home consulting service that won entrance into the clean tech incubator known as Energy Excelerator; and Cost of Solar, a solar lead generation service to connect interested homeowners and solar contractors. In his spare time, Scott surfs, plays ultimate frisbee and enjoys a good, long bike ride.


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