Aerial view of an urban cityscape framing a central lake

Setting the Green Standard

Amit Cohen

Oakland has taken strides to improve sustainability and resilience within the city, implementing a variety of plans and programs in recent years (including the Oakland EcoBlock)! Yet it can be difficult to measure progress on climate change issues due to the complexity of these problems.

In an attempt to provide feedback, the American Council for Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) produces yearly scorecards for 100 American cities, rating their climate change efforts in five main areas: community-wide initiatives, buildings policies, transportation policies, energy and water utilities, and local government operations. Oakland was ranked 10th for the second consecutive year in ACEEE’s 2021 Clean City Energy Scorecard (PDF), one of five California cities placing in the top ten, with a score of 62.5 out of 100 (San Francisco ranked first).

Climate change ratings of various cities
Oakland ranked 10th in ACEEE’s 2021 City Clean Energy scorecard. Credit: ACEEE

ACEEE rated Oakland as one of the best cities in the country in developing accessible, clean transportation. Oakland was also praised for its work in gaining feedback from a diverse group of residents when creating its 2030 Equitable Climate Action Plan (ECAP) (PDF), its energy utility’s efficiency efforts, and green building code and energy efficiency financing program, among other initiatives.

ACEEE projects that Oakland will achieve its 2030 greenhouse gas reduction goal of lowering emissions by 56 percent from 2005 levels. However, there is still room for improvement. While better than most American cities, Oakland’s community-wide initiatives, buildings policies, and local government operations scores lag behind national leaders. To improve in these areas, ACEEE recommends creating more formal roles for traditionally marginalized residents to play a role in sustainability decision-making and adopting more policies and programs to increase energy efficiency in existing buildings. With these improvements, Oakland can continue to make progress on climate change and serve as an example for other cities throughout the country.

Cover image credit: City of Oakland

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