cleantech insights

Top 10 Reasons Why Boston is a Cleantech City

Guest Analyst: Shawn Lesser

The state of Massachusetts can be characterized by internationally strong industry clusters, a significant and growing venture capitalist base, the highest R&D spending in the US, and world acclaimed universities. With that backdrop, the City of Boston is at the heart of the cleantech movement in Massachusetts. Here are the top ten reasons why Boston, Massachusetts is ready to take its place in the forefront of the cleantech revolution.

1. The New England Energy Council
Venture capitalists, major financial institutions, clean energy industries and associations have paired with local colleges and universities to become a community of nearly 150 stakeholders determined to make Boston a world-class leader in clean energy. The Council regularly convenes clean energy CEOs and provides training, education, and policy assistance to industries in the greater Boston region.

2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
With support for student driven innovation, MIT’s Clean Energy Prize provides $200,000 to the number one student energy project in the nation. The prize in 2009 attracted 113 student teams from 40 different American universities with projects that ranged from insulation using husks to new solar technology.

3. The Global Warming Solutions Act
Signed in 2008 by Governor Deval Patrick, the Global Warming Solutions Act represents the strictest greenhouse gas reduction law in the United States. It uses 1990 greenhouse gas levels as a baseline and requires an 80% reduction from baseline by 2050, with a 10-25% reduction in place by 2020. On December 29, 2010, former Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian Bowles set the 2020 greenhouse gas limit at 25 percent below the 1990 baseline, and released a report detailing a portfolio of policies designed to enable the Bay State to reach that goal while continuing to grow its burgeoning clean energy economy. Boston cleantech companies will be front and center in the effort to make these goals and keep Boston a world leader in environmental improvements.

4. The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center
Based in Boston, the MassCEC demonstrates the state’s commitment to cleantech. Created as part of the Green Jobs Act of 2008, a Massachusetts state law, MassCEC stands alone in the United States as the first state agency of its kind — one devoted exclusively to the creation of jobs in the clean energy sector. MassCEC links academic research resources to entrepreneurs and the workforce in order to accelerate the development of cleantech industries in Boston and the rest of Massachusetts.

5. Boston Cleantech VC hub
Boston is a hot bed of cleantech focused VC’s. With groups such as REBN and VCs such as Polaris Venture Partners, General Catalyst Partners, Advanced Technology Ventures, Black Coral Capital, Braemar Energy Ventures, and Flagship Ventures, Boston is putting its money where its mouth is.

6. Boston is a cleantech brain trust

MIT, Harvard University, Boston University, Tufts University and Northeastern University help attract top notch research and development. Notable cleantech spinouts of MIT include: A123 Systems, FastCap Systems, Levant Power, Trophos Energy, Promethean Power1336 Technologies, Sun Catalytix, and AgrividaMIT is a true cleantech spinoff machine (ranked #1 Cleantech University 2010).

7. First Wind
An independent wind energy development company based in Boston, First Wind is a leading provider of wind-based electricity in the northeastern region of the United States. With a total of 504 MW of installed capacity in the Northeast, West, and Hawaii, First Wind provides an example of renewable energy success to the rest of the nation. First Wind owns and operates wind farms that demonstrate environmental stewardship, proving that large-scale wind operations can co-exist with native flora and fauna without damaging precious natural habitats or posing risk to endangered species.

8. New Generation Energy
This non-profit organization based in Boston is dedicated to the ideal of “building green communities” by linking volunteers to projects and showing individuals how they can make an impact to help a community reduce its carbon footprint, as well as reduce American dependence on foreign energy sources. Projects support small businesses to help them become more competitive in the global marketplace by making the transition to renewable energy sources affordable and feasible. Currently, New Generation Energy is offering a 100% match to donations made by private individuals for this important work, making it an impressive example of making cleantech dollars stretch further to get more done.

9. EnerNOC
EnerNOC is a Boston-based energy management company that focuses on proving that the bottom line for your business can work in harmony with what is best for planet Earth. More than 8,200 customers worldwide have realized cost savings on their energy expenses by switching to cleantech solutions provided by EnerNOC. EnerNOC prides itself on helping customers to “change the way” they think about energy supply, demand, efficiency, and consumption. Going beyond mere energy management, they also offer a comprehensive suite of carbon accounting services to help customers realize cost savings through ways to quantify and reduce their carbon footprint. At EnerNOC, what’s good for the environment is also good business sense.

10. Sustainable Performance Institute (formerly The Green Roundtable/NEXUS)
The Sustainable Performance Institute is a non-profit training and consulting company that certifies and trains people to make their buildings better. With more than 25,000 building industry participants in its forums, SPI shares resources through webinars, videos, articles, live roundtables and more. First founded in 1998, the organization got its start through a series of roundtables and forums to disseminate lessons learned about green building techniques. Now, SPI reaches out to inform all relevant stakeholders across New England and the US cleantech energy sector.

New England Clean Energy Council President Peter Rothstein said it best: “Few regions are as strong in cleantech as New England, and its hub, Boston. With its world class universities, strength in venture capital, strong policies accelerating adoption, and its vibrant entrepreneurial community, greater Boston is at the center of our region’s growing clean energy cluster.”

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  • Jason Hanna

    I love it. It’s great to be part of the clean tech cluster in this region, and we’d like to make a case for becoming #11 on your list. We’re preparing to launch a clean technology incubator in Boston’s Innovation District to help even more entrepreneurs succeed. If you’d like to learn more, and in the process help us win $25K for improving our new space, please visit and register your name and e-mail. Search for ‘Greentown Labs’ on the site and you’ll see our competition entry in the Innovation District Welcome Home Challenge, along with an outline of our new not-for-profit. Help move us up in the rankings by leaving “stars” on our competition entry. We need all the 5-star rankings we can get, and could really benefit from the support of the greater clean tech community!

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