There is an exciting new resource for local communities that want to tackle carbon emissions from buildings and spur markets for increased investment in energy efficiency: the City Energy Project Resource Library. Buildings, still accounting for about 40% of carbon emissions in the United States, will be key to meeting any climate goals—and leading communities are eyeing those buildings for the myriad benefits that energy efficiency improvements will bring. The Resource Library offers lessons learned over more than five years of work with twenty pioneering cities across the country working to achieve ambitious climate and sustainability goals in the building sector.
An extensive inventory of best practices, practical guides, and city-specific examples, the Resource Library provides a roadmap to help cities at every stage in crafting and implementing policies and programs that are shown to not only boost energy efficiency in buildings but also cut energy waste, strengthen local economies, reduce harmful pollution, and yield more equitable outcomes in efforts to address climate change.
Over the course of the City Energy Project, we worked with dozens of city leaders both visionary and experienced in practical implementation. While the interests and goals of every community may differ and thus may require unique application of these best practices, the range of contexts and experiences allow us to share a slew of lessons learned and expertise developed that can be of use to cities in pursuit of ambitious climate goals.
The City Energy Project launched in January 2014 with 10 cities: Atlanta; Boston; Chicago; Denver; Houston; Kansas City, Missouri; Los Angeles; Orlando; Philadelphia; and Salt Lake City. In November 2016, the project expanded to include an additional nine cities and one county: Des Moines, Iowa; Fort Collins, Colorado.; Miami-Dade County; New Orleans; Pittsburgh; Providence, Rhode Island; Reno, Nevada; San Jose, California; St. Louis, and Saint Paul, Minnesota. A constellation of knowledge and experience accumulated over the years of partnership with these cities, shared out now in the Resource Library for use by other cities and counties with similar goals around energy efficiency, healthy buildings, climate mitigation, and economic development. The Resource Library also includes a selection of best practices and lessons learned from other leading cities working to tackle energy efficiency in buildings.
This knowledge-rich repository is based on the work of cities in developing policies inclusive of stakeholder input, communicating the benefits of policies and programs, and truly building out a culture of energy efficiency and efficient markets. The resources referenced below—far from exhaustive—can be instructive models for other communities seeking to do the same:
In Salt Lake City, they communicated the general benefits of benchmarking but also the specific opportunities for air quality benefits.
Sparking friendly competition across the building sector with an effective challenge program, Reno also created snazzy factsheets and press releases to share the vision for a revitalized building sector.
Denver meticulously planned a stakeholder engagement process, sending out task force invitations and recruiting participants through compelling infographics. To aid in their own discussions with stakeholders, Reno created a scope of work for a professional facilitator.
City Energy Project also provides best practices ranging from mapping out policy parameters with stakeholders to giving supportive testimony to putting together a draft building performance ordinance based on unique local concerns and characteristics.
San Jose is illustrative of a transparent and informative website with extensive resources, which resulted in impressive letters of support for a building performance policy.
Websites from St. Louis, Atlanta, Chicago, Kansas City, Seattle, and Philadelphia can be helpful examples as other cities plan their building efficiency efforts, offering scorecards and maps to help building owners and the public understand and interact with energy use information, providing a help center or a benchmarking checklist, offering FAQs as well as important exemption request forms and compliance notifications.
There are several excellent resources to help communities to engage with their local utilities on policy implementation and data aggregation, including whole building data request forms by MidAmerican Energy in Des Moines.
Cities can also find an abundance of resources on conducting an energy code compliance assessment, expanding access to financing options for public and private buildings, and using green leases and working with brokers (demonstrated by Denver) to bridge the split incentive between tenants and landlords.
...and there's so much more!
To access the City Energy Project Resource Library and to learn more about the project, visit www.cityenergyproject.org.