Our cleanest cities provide powerful lessons in how to transition to clean energy, while growing a city economy, and providing better services to citizens. All of these cities improved their renewable energy generation, energy-efficient buildings, government, equitable communities, and transportation. The success of these cities, and the ranking of all major U.S. cities is detailed by American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). The highest ranking U.S. cities are these:
2. San Francisco
5. Washington DC
6. New York
7. Los Angeles
Minneapolis jumped from the seventh to the fourth in the 2019 Scorecard. Minneapolis aspires to reduce GHG emissions 80 percent by 2050. New energy policies for existing buildings were key to Minneapolis jumping ahead of green cities like Washington DC and New York City. Also, energy use must be disclosed anytime a home is sold or apartment rented.
Xcel, the region’s largest utility, is moving away from coal, Minnesota’s largest source of electricity. Thirty percent of electricity now is generated by wind, hydro, and solar. Offshore wind on the Great Lakes has the potential to replace all coal power in Minnesota.
Minneapolis wants to address environmental justice with community-driven programs. An example is the Green Zones Initiative that includes giving voice to impacted communities, collecting data, planning, and funding. Priority issues include equity, displacement, air quality, brownfields and soil contamination, housing, green jobs, food access and greening. Members of the Northern and Southside Green Zones serve on advisory committees to the City Council.
Like all cities, the city needs to leverage its own funds. Using $10.6 million from the Affordable Housing Trust, the city attracted another $188 million in public and private funds to build 764 units of affordable multifamily rental housing.