ForbesHome Ranks State Sustainability Efforts

Solar panels on a home roof

(Credit: Flickr)

by | Sep 20, 2023

Based on a recent ForbesHome analysis, a trend of increasing state sustainability efforts was identified across the nation, with Massachusetts named the most environmentally friendly state.

ForbesHome measured states’ sustainability by weighing factors such as water usage and solar energy consumption, then created a sustainability index for each state. Massachusetts was followed by Rhode Island, New York, California, and Florida, respectively, with California named as the most solar-friendly state.

Meanwhile, the least environmentally friendly states were found to be Nebraska, Montana, Louisiana, and Wyoming, with North Dakota at the bottom of the list.

When comparing Massachusetts’ sustainability practices to North Dakota’s, the main disparities were found in water usage, energy use, and solar-friendliness. While Massachusetts averages about 200.57 million gallons of water each day, North Dakota averages about 1.79 billion gallons.

Massachusetts’ energy use averages 192.2 million British thermal units each year, while North Dakota uses 904.9 million annually. Finally, Massachusetts ranked fifth in terms of solar friendliness, measured by how much of the state’s energy is run by solar, how many homes are solar-powered, and the average cost of solar installation. North Dakota ranked last in this regard, with only 2 megawatts of solar installed and only 149 homes powered by solar.

State Legislation, Incentivization of Sustainable Practices

Along with national incentives for renewable energy development from the Inflation Reduction Act, many states have also made efforts to improve their sustainability practices through legislation and additional incentives.

For instance, earlier this week, Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey announced that she is to soon sign an executive order banning state agencies from purchasing plastic bottles. She also plans to enforce biodiversity conservation goals for the state and has considered climate change mitigation a major focus for her time in office.

California has also passed a number of environmentally-focused laws, including recent legislation that would limit and potentially ban the sale of gas-powered cars in the state. Recently, the House pushed back against this rule as a number of states decided to put similar legislation in place. The EPA may grant states the right to create such legislation according to the Clean Air Act.

An increasing number of states have also adopted rebates for EV purchases and tax credits available for solar panel installation, among other programs that may contribute to a more sustainable state overall.

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