Boston ranks 9th in clean tech

West Coast cities dominate


Buoyed by its academic research centers, Boston ranks among the top 10 metro regions in the country for its use and development of clean technology, though it still trails western innovation hubs in California, Oregon, and Colorado, according to a new report.

The first annual US Metro Clean Tech Index, released Tuesday by a national research firm called Clean Edge, placed Boston in 9th position behind cities like San Jose, San Francisco, Portland, Sacramento, and Seattle, who made up the top five.

The index ranked the country’s largest 50 metro regions using four metrics: green buildings; advanced transportation; clean electricity and carbon management; and clean-tech investment, innovation, and workforce.

Boston’s strength was found in its clean-tech research and development industry.

Described in the report as a “powerhouse of technology development and venture capital activity” anchored by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston trailed only the San Francisco and San Jose regions in venture capital dollars per capita and ranked among the top five for clean energy patent activity.

The region is also home to the largest concentration of university-developed technologies, according to the report.

“With relatively solid performance in buildings, transportation, and electricity, the Boston area’s claim to clean-tech leadership comes from its role as a powerhouse of technology development and venture capital activity,” the report summary said.

Boston was the only city in the Northeast to crack the top 10 with its ninth place score of 49.4 out of 100, and Hartford finished 18th with a specialty in corporate technology developers.

Clean Edge, which was founded in 2000, describes itself as the world’s first research and advisory firm with a concentration on the clean-tech sector. Its partners include Cleantech Group, Heslin Rothernberg Farley & Mesiti, InnovateTech Ventures and R.L. Polk & Co.

The group graded the metro areas on indicators such as green building deployment, clean vehicles in use, advanced transportation infrastructure, public transportation ridership, regional electricity mix, greenhouse gas emissions, venture capital investment, clean energy patents, and clean energy jobs.

After Seattle, the cities of Denver, Los Angeles, Washington, DC, Boston and Austin rounded out the top 10, followed by San Diego, Chicago, New York, Salt Lake City, and Minneapolis.

Massachusetts, which has tied its participation in a greenhouse gas reduction compact to its energy efficiency initiatives, was recently ranked number one among states for energy efficiency policies and programs for the second straight year, according to a scorecard compiled by the American Council for an Energy-Efficiency Economy. The state beat out California for the second straight year after that state claimed top honors for four consecutive years. The council launched its rankings in 2006.

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State House News Service
“At first, clean tech may evoke some very non-urban imagery – wind farms dotting the Great Plains, solar projects scattered in remote Southwest deserts, or biofuel refineries near farms in the Heartland. But in reality it is the demand from major population centers that drives this activity, as wind keeps the lights on in Denver, the sun powers air conditioners across Los Angeles and ethanol and advanced biodiesel fuel vehicles in Minneapolis,” the report said.

San Jose, which led the index with a score of 82.2, is home to Silicon Valley and ranks first in concentration of clean-tech venture capital and scored well in patent activity, university technology development and electric and hybrid-electric vehicle deployment.