The Greenest State in America Goes to...Massachusetts!

Photo courtesy of Amanda Ikard/Gavel Media.

Photo courtesy of Amanda Ikard/Gavel Media.

As we enter the second week of November, children in the Northeast are eager for the day when they wake up to a blanket of snow in their front yard. Parents and young adults, on the other hand, are becoming increasingly cognizant of the declining amounts of snow per year.

“At this time, twenty years ago, I would have been shoveling tons and tons of snow off of my windshield wipers,” says Gene Heyman, a BC professor in the Psychology Department.

Total snowfall in Massachusetts has decreased from 34 inches in 1938, to 24.3 inches in 1987 to 6.8 inches in 2012, with variation in between. Many fear the ruinous effects of global warming, but there is no doubt that Massachusetts is doing whatever it can to address the issue.

Image via Massachusetts Clean Energy Report 2013.

Image via Massachusetts Clean Energy Report 2013.

In fact, Massachusetts was recently named the most energy efficient state in the country by The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) for the third consecutive year. Furthermore, Boston was named the most energy efficient city in September by the ACEEE.

Following Massachusetts are California, New York, Oregon, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. States are ranked based on their “array of government initiatives and programs aimed at promoting energy-efficiency,” says Annie Downs, the state policy research analyst at the ACEEE. “We score states on utility programs, on transportation policies, building energy codes, combined heat and power incentives and state government initiatives.”

Massachusetts in particular has been commended for its Green Communities Act of 2008 which resulted in the surfacing of numerous additional energy-efficiency programs. As part of the Green Communities Act, the Green Communities Division was established “to guide all 351 cities and towns along a path of enhanced energy efficiency and renewable energy toward zero net energy.” 

Image via Massachusetts Clean Energy Report 2013.

Image via Massachusetts Clean Energy Report 2013.

With the help of local coordinators, the Division strives to educate the public on the benefits of energy efficiency, advise those going through the energy management process, promote informed decisions and seek opportunities to fund energy improvements.

The ACEEE calls Massachusetts a “leading state with a long, successful record of implementing energy efficiency programs for all customer sectors.” Statistics show its determination to continue as a leader in energy efficiency. In less than seven years, there has been an 85-fold increase in solar capacity. Between 2007 and 2013, “Massachusetts experienced a 157% growth in electric energy savings from energy efficiency measures.”

With energy efficiency leading to both environmental and economic benefits, Massachusetts has a bright future. However, it is obvious that the works of one state will only make a dent in the issue of global warming. One can only hope that others will follow our leadership in the progressive path towards a cleaner, more energy-efficient future.

Although conservation efforts may appear minimal here on campus, the Sustainability Office works hard year round to make BC a greener place. We have single-stream recycling, which allows us to throw all of our recyclables in one bin instead of sorting them out.

Behind the scenes in the dining halls, our leftover food is composted. Lastly, in the past year, the campus as a whole saw an increase in recycling rates by 5%.

Just as Massachusetts alone cannot attain national energy efficiency, the Sustainability Office alone cannot make BC a perfectly sustainable campus. A group effort is necessary to achieve the best results. What will you do to help our campus be more green?

Featured image via Second Nature/Flickr.

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