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Climate & Energy

New Bedford is an international model of how the City, residents, and businesses all actively play a role in reducing our contribution to climate change by lowering our greenhouse gas emissions and greening our energy supply.

Climate & Energy

NB Resilient Goals

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from our major contributors--buildings and transportation--will be key to our emission reduction efforts. To drive progress, NB Resilient has laid out four goals:

  1. Use 100% renewable sources for the City of New Bedford's energy by 2050.
  2. Reduce residential, municipal, and commercial energy consumption 35% by 2030, using 2013 as a baseline.
  3. Reduce community-wide greenhouse gas emissions 35% below 2017 levels by 2030, toward a path to net zero emissions by 2050.
  4. Work with partners to reduce the vulnerability of the energy system due to extreme weather or peak demand.

To learn more, read our Climate & Energy Fact Sheet.



Climate and Energy

What Are Greenhouse Gases?

Greenhouse gases (GHGs) are a natural blanket for Earth. Emitting GHGs is like adding an extra layer, which raises the Earth's atmospheric temperature. The warming of the Earth’s atmosphere changes the climate. GHGs are released when we burn fossil fuels for electricity, to heat our homes, or drive. By investing in renewable energy technologies and reducing our energy consumption, we reduce our contribution to climate change. In preparation for climate change, we also need to ensure that energy is always available to essential facilities.


Greenhouse Gas Emissions

GHGs by Sector

In 2017, community wide emissions from New Bedford totaled 801,044 metric tons of CO2 equivalent (MTCO2e). While those emissions come from many different activities, the total is the same as would be produced by an average passenger vehicle driving around the world over 78,000 times (1.95 billion miles)!

When we view emissions by sector, we see that most of New Bedford's emissions are caused by the energy used to operate, heat, and cool buildings. This is followed by transportation, which is mostly on-road cars and trucks. These are followed by emissions from treating wastewater, landfilling solid waste, and the energy used to supply potable water.


Greenhouse Gas Emissions

GHGs by Source

In addition to viewing by sector, we can also look at GHGs by the specific fuels and activities that we use. By far the greatest source of emissions is from the natural gas we use primarily to heat our buildings. This is followed by on-road gasoline use and then by electricity.

While bringing more renewable energy to supply electricity is a key strategy for minimizing climate change, New Bedford has the biggest opportunity to reduce emissions through building efficiency and electrifying heating needs.


An image of a large building with many solar panels on top of it


Renewable Energy

Clean and Green

New Bedford is a recognized leader in clean energy development. Municipal government has installed over 16 MW of solar capacity on its facilities, enough to cover the electricity needs of over 2,500 homes. In addition, over 400 homeowners have installed solar on their own.

In addition to local development, residents and businesses in New Bedford are driving transition of the energy system at larger scales by participating in Community Choice Aggregation. Not only does this program help create demand for new sources of energy, but it insulates consumers from fluctuating energy prices, saving the community over $4 million since 2014.



Energy Use

Optimizing Energy

The energy we use comes from many sources and through different fuels. There are the liquids most of us put into our vehicles, gas lines feeding many of our buildings, and the many ways we can generate and consume electricity. As we move to a low-carbon future, we will be changing how we use different forms of energy for different purposes and as we develop new sources of energy off our coast, we can stretch the benefit further by reducing energy waste and inefficiency.

Energy from different sources is measured in different ways – electricity is measured in kWh, natural gas in therms, oil in gallons. We can convert these different measures into a common measure- million British Thermal Units (MMBTU) -to better understand and compare total energy use.
MMBTUMillion British Thermal Units


Energy Use

Energy and Fuels

By putting all the fuels we use in the same terms we can look at how much energy gets used for different purposes. Currently, the largest share of our energy use comes from natural gas, followed by liquid petroleum products (like gasoline and diesel), followed by electricity.

Reducing GHGs will mean replacing much of that natural gas and petroleum use with electricity, generated by renewable resources.


Actions You Can Take

Become More Resilient

Here's how you can save energy and money and help New Bedford become more resilient.

Get a free energy audit
Learn about solar opportunities for your home or business
Learn more about our Community Electricity Aggregation Program
Learn about Air Source Heat Pumps for your home or business - save money and energy!
Get Involved with high efficiency design and construction