Theses Master's

Going the Extra Mile: An Analysis of energy efficiency City-State Partnerships through the Massachusetts Stretch Energy Code Program

Smith, Shelby

In the United States, where federal level climate protection oscillates according to political tides, environmental and energy efficiency regulation is primarily being undertaken by sub-federal actors. As mere arms of the state, however, towns and cities are severally limited in their ability to implement environmental legislation.

Through an examination of the Massachusetts Stretch Energy Code program, a municipal-state partnership that bypasses preemption, this paper seeks to understand what factors influence a municipality’s likelihood to adopt energy efficiency regulation that is stricter than the state mandate. By conceptualizing the different spheres of influence from both a bottom-up and top-down perspective, the aim of this research is twofold. First, to understand what characteristics of a town influence its propensity to adopt, three categories of bottom-up variables are identified. Specifically, the socio-economic and demographic characteristics of jurisdictions, municipalities government factors, and the housing stock composition of towns and cities are considered. The second objective is to understand what structural characteristics within the top-down components of the Stretch Energy Code program, as a municipal-state partnership, influence a jurisdiction’s likelihood to adopt the plan.

Employing a mixed methods case study approach with quantitative, spatial, and qualitative lines of analysis, this research found that several factors within the socio-economic composition of towns, the average age of a jurisdiction’s housing stock, and the type of utility company serving the town had the greatest impacts on a municipality’s propensity to adopt. Further, this research uncovered a “spatial contagion” aspect to the enactment of the Stretch Energy Code, as well as significant findings related to the incentivization structure of the broader Green Communities program within which the Stretch Energy Code is embedded.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Urban Planning
Thesis Advisors
O'Neill-Hutson, Moira K.
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
July 16, 2019