Massachusetts ranked fifth most eco-friendly state

Written by: Paige Smith

Personal finance website WalletHub released a report Monday detailing the most and least eco-friendly states, with Massachusetts ranking as the fifth most eco-friendly state in the nation.

The report was compiled based on 14 key characteristics of “Environmental Quality” and “Eco-Friendly Behaviors,” according to a Monday release.

“Environmental Quality considers the current state of the environment in each area, while Eco-Friendly Behaviors evaluates the environmental impact of population habits,” the release stated.

Lisa Tornatore, sustainability outreach coordinator at Sustainability@BU, Boston University’s chief environmental group on campus, credited Massachusetts’ achievement to Boston’s goals. She also credited BU’s efforts, which align with those of the city as a whole.

“As a large landowner in the City of Boston, BU’s goals are in line with the city’s — to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 25% by 2020 and 80% by 2050,” Tornatore wrote in an email. “In 2014, Boston University reached our goal of 25% greenhouse gas reduction 6 years early. This reduction is partly due to our fuel switching and energy reduction, but also because of the greening of the electrical grid in the region.”

Robert Kaufmann, a professor in the department of earth and environment in the College of Arts and Sciences as well as the director of the Center for Energy and Environmental Studies, credited the ranking to Massachusetts’ environmental legislation.

“Things like policies to encourage electric utilities to sell less electricity, policies to get people to put solar panels on their rooftops, things like that, I would assume [helped the state earn a high ranking],” Kaufmann said.

Kaufmann also said he doesn’t see a need for a trade-off between economic growth and environmental protection.

“There are a lot of businesses in Massachusetts that make money by installing their sun run and energy that make money by installing solar cells on people’s houses,” Kaufmann said. “People make money by selling high-efficiency automobiles. And anything that you saved by conserving, you can spend on something else, so I don’t see any inherent conflict at all.”

Kaufmann also said that often the easiest ways of cutting back on energy use are the things that make the most difference.

“[They can] drive smaller cars, put solar on their rooftops, and just generally use less energy, ride the T instead of driving their car or ride their bike,” he said. “Those are the things that have the biggest impact.”

Several residents said the ranking was surprising due to a perceived lack of promotion for green energy.

Ernesto Soto, 29, of Roslindale, said he wasn’t surprised by the ranking, but was surprised that more is not being done to promote the use of clean energy.

“I am surprised because Boston is very known for having good universities, that it surprises me when I don’t see many things promoting clean energy,” he said. “We have a lot more silence and we don’t have too much clean technology implemented.”

Yashar Rahimpour, 25, a student at the BU School of Medicine, said that though the ranking was positive, more must be done.

“It’s [Massachusetts] pretty environmentally friendly,” he said. “It could be better, but it is doing pretty well.”

Russell Lopez, 57, of the South End, said that it is not Massachusetts that is ahead of the curve, but that all other states are behind.

“First of all, so much of the country’s worse that we look good in comparison,” Lopez said. “But also, simply because of the way that Boston and Eastern Massachusetts developed over the city, everything is so dense that people walk more, people take public transportation more and end up living in a more environmentally sound manner.”

Julia Metjian and Anush Swaminathan contributed to the reporting of this article.