Has Renew Boston Trust improved energy efficiency and reduced emissions?

Launched in 2017, Renew Boston Trust is the City’s program to finance energy efficiency in municipal buildings. The basic idea is simple: the City of Boston invests in energy conservation measures in its buildings, then pays itself back using the money saved on its energy bills, which is guaranteed by the contractor that City hires to perform the work. 

In addition to lower energy use and utility bills, the projects in Renew Boston Trust have another potential benefit: a reduction in GHG emissions. The climate benefit of energy efficiency is important because buildings represent about two-thirds of the City’s GHG emissions. 

Buildings in the Renew Boston Trust program span the Boston fire and police departments, libraries, community centers, parks and recreations, and properties managed by the city. Energy conservation measures include lighting upgrades, building weatherization, water conservation, computer and plug load management, smart control systems, and the adoption of solar energy.


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In phase 1 the City chose 14 buildings whose upgrades were completed by April 2020. Thirty-one buildings were selected for upgrades in Phase 2. Those upgrades are scheduled for completion in April 2023. A baseline energy audit was performed before each project began to measure the quantity and cost fuel and electricity, and to estimate GHG emissions. A retrospective audit enabled a “before and after” comparison.

The building upgrades in phases one and two are projected to save the city about $1 million in the first full year after completion. The iconic Copley Library alone realized $255,174 in savings in the first year after project completion. Upgrades to the library included improved lighting, window replacement, high efficiency motors, steam trap retrofits, and water conservation upgrades.


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The reduction in energy use generated a reduction of 6,791 MTCO2e in the first full year following project completion. The Copley Library and the Boston police headquarters buildings had the two largest absolute reductions. The average reduction per building was about 14% in the first year after project completion. Buildings with large one-year percentage reductions include the Mount Hope Cemetery administration building, East Boston Stadium, and several branches of the Boston Public Library system.


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