Net Zero Energy Roadmap for Burlington

Burlington Electric Department
Project Complete

Burlington, Vermont’s municipal electric utility, Burlington Electric Department (BED) contracted Synapse and Resource Systems Group (RSG) to develop a roadmap on how the city could best achieve its Net Zero Energy by 2030 goal. The City’s goal is defined as reducing and eventually eliminating fossil fuel use from its heating and ground transportation sectors. 

This roadmap is a strategic analysis of the major steps or milestones needed to reach the City's Net Zero by 2030 goal with supporting data and recommendations for next steps. In order to develop this roadmap, the Synapse/RSG team:

  •   developed a 2018 baseline of energy use across all sectors
  •   projected a business-as-usual trajectory through 2030
  •   analyzed four pathways to net-zero energy by 2030, including the magnitude and cost-effectiveness of each opportunity
  •   detailed a host of policies and strategies with consideration for impact, cost-effectiveness and equity

The intended audience for this roadmap is implementers of climate action goals, strategies and policies nationwide: including community and state leaders, partner organizations, utilities, and community members. The approach and supporting strategies are applicable to many communities nationwide. The roadmap is publicly available and can be viewed here.  

In early 2021, Synapse was contracted by BED to update GHG emissions and other decarbonization metrics for Burlington in order to compare actual progress in 2019 and 2020 to the projections modeled in the Net Zero Energy Roadmap. This analysis showed that Burlington's emissions have fallen 15 percent since 2018, in line with a Net Zero trajectory. The COVID-19 pandemic contributed significantly to emissions reductions in 2020, particularly by reducing the number of miles driven in private vehicles. Burlington now has the opportunity to double down on decarbonization measures, including the electrification of transportation and heating, to mitigate any post-pandemic emissions rebound.

In 2022, Synapse subsequently updated key metrics with data for the years 2019-2021 to measure Burlington's Net Zero Energy progress against the original Net Zero Roadmap released in 2019.