Connecticut: Green Leadership
In this brief, five insights that demonstrate Connecticut's green leadership have been provided. Connecticut ranks as the fourth most environmentally friendly state in the US. Besides having the eighth-highest concentration of US doctorate degrees in science and engineering, the state has also positioned itself as a global leader in green energy innovation. Notable initiatives that have contributed to its position as a green leader include the Green Buildings Tax Credit Program and the Sustainable CT initiative.
Global Center for Green Energy Innovation
- Currently, Connecticut is "home to one [of] the largest fuel cell power projects in North America". It is also "one of the global centers for green energy innovation".
- The United States Department of Energy named Connecticut among the top 3 states in terms of fuel cell development. As a global leader in technology and research for hydrogen fuel cells, Connecticut's fuel cell facility in Bridgeport has a capacity of 14.9 megawatts. This facility powers thousands of businesses and homes.
- In 2009, FuelCell Energy landed a 43.5-megawatt contract in Connecticut. The projects were classified by the Connecticut government as sources of renewable energy.
- The state of "Connecticut has the eighth-highest concentration of science and engineering doctorates in the [United States]." Also, it has unmatched experience in the fuel cell industry. Currently, "there are at least 600 fuel cell and hydrogen supply chain companies based in Connecticut, generating over $211 million in gross state product."
- Connecticut extensively supports all types and sizes of green energy manufacturers.
Green Buildings Tax Credit Program
- The state of Connecticut created a Green Buildings Tax Credit Program through the Connecticut General Statute 12-217mm.
- This program provided a tax incentive for building developers and owners "who meet or exceed the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design (LEED) Gold Standard for commercial construction, renovation or rehabilitation projects."
- Program administration was shared by the Connecticut Office of Policy and Management (OPM) and the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP).
- This program was closed in 2017; however, the program made it more cost-effective for developers and builders to invest in construction that is energy-efficient and supports the state's clean energy future.
- The Sustainable CT initiative was launched in January 2018. The statewide initiative was established to support Connecticut’s towns and cities. Sustainable CT includes a diverse menu of sustainability best practices, resources and tools, recognition, and peer learning.
- According to Laura Francis, the First Selectman of Durham and Chair Elect of the Sustainable CT board of directors: “Sustainable CT will foster creative thinking and problem-solving within and between municipalities. It is the tool communities can use to bring together seemingly divergent stakeholders for the common goal of sustainability.”
- By October 2019, 32 communities in Connecticut achieved 2019 'Sustainable CT' Certification. Collectively, a total of 47 municipalities had earned Sustainable CT certification. This represented more than 27% of Connecticut's communities.
- The certified communities in Connecticut spanned every county and included some of its smallest towns and largest cities.
Climate Change Leadership
- Connecticut has been a national and regional leader in climate mitigation policy. The state has invested in renewable energy and adopted green and sustainable technology.
- In 1990, Connecticut became "the first state to pass global warming legislation acknowledging greenhouse gases drive climate change and calling for the state to reduce its CO2 emissions in response using energy efficiency, transportation, and building measures."
- Also, the state's climate change efforts were propelled in 2001 by Republican Governor John Rowland who "signed onto one of the world's first regional CO2 reduction agreements, the New England Governors/Eastern Canadian Premiers (NEG/ECP) Climate Change Action Plan, which charged states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 75 to 85 percent below 1990 levels by 2050."
- In 2005, Connecticut was a founding member of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. This initiative was the first market-based system in the United States that capped CO2 emissions from power plants; it was also the first initiative to allow companies trade emissions credits.
- Three years after, Connecticut became the fifth state in the United States to enact a compulsory cap on greenhouse gases after the UN General Assembly passed the 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act.
High Green Rankings
- In 2019, WalletHub ranked the greenest states in the US. On this list, Connecticut was the fourth most environmentally friendly state in the country, scoring a total of 73.89 points.
- In terms of climate change contributions, the state ranked the highest (1 out of 50) in the country. It earned the 7th position on environmental quality. WalletHub ranked Connecticut 9 out of 50 US states for eco-friendly behaviors.
- The University of Connecticut was "named the world’s 11th “greenest” institution of higher education worldwide among almost 800 peers whose sustainability efforts were reviewed as part of the 2019 UI GreenMetric World University Rankings."
- Among US institutions featured on the 2019 UI GreenMetric World University Rankings, the University of Connecticut was the second-best in the country. The University of California, which ranked third on the list, was the only US institution ahead of the University of Connecticut.