Earning 47 of 50 possible points, California has landed the top spot on the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy’s (ACEEE) 2022 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard. Rounding out the top 10 are Massachusetts (#2), New York (#3), Vermont (#4), Maine (#5), Washington, DC (#6), Maryland and Rhode Island (tied at #7), Connecticut (#9), and Minnesota (#10).
On the regional front, leaders are California in the West, Massachusetts in the Northeast, Minnesota in the Midwest, Colorado in the Southwest, and Virginia in the Southeast. Each of these states has enacted sweeping clean energy laws in recent years and expanded energy efficiency efforts to achieve climate goals.
Building energy codes, which set minimum acceptable levels of energy efficiency for new buildings, is one of the factors ACEEE considers when scoring state efforts. The scorecard found that seven states — California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Montana, Oregon, Vermont, Washington — and DC have adopted the most-up-to-date commercial building codes. To reduce energy use and GHG emissions from existing large buildings, Washington, Colorado, and Maryland joined DC in developing building energy performance standards, a major step forward in decarbonizing the country’s existing buildings.
As energy efficiency programs increasingly prioritize greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions, four states — California, Massachusetts, New York, and Vermont — plus DC have aligned their energy and climate goals, with fuel-neutral energy savings targets that can encourage electrification with measures like installing heat pumps. Still, at least 12 states still do not even allow utility efficiency programs to provide incentives for switching from fossil fuel heaters to efficient electric systems.
“Leading states are shifting their efficiency efforts to focus on decarbonization and reducing energy burdens for the most vulnerable residents, setting an example for other states,” said Sagarika Subramanian, senior research analyst at ACEEE and lead author of the report. “The clean energy transition will only be successful if we ensure it benefits everyone, including low-income and disadvantaged communities, while addressing historic patterns of injustice. Because of the severity of the climate crisis, even leading states must take bolder action for the United States to meet its climate targets of at least 50% GHG emissions reductions by 2030 and net-zero emissions by 2050.”