City Energy Project Celebrates New City Advisors

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Last week was a big week for the City Energy Project.  After months of preparation and hiring, the new City Advisors and local nonprofit staff from Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Mo., Los Angeles, Orlando, Philadelphia, and Salt Lake City convened in Washington, D.C. for the Project’s first retreat. These ten City Advisors and nonprofit staff are serving as the local leads on the City Energy Project, increasing capacity of each city to work on building energy efficiency. Throughout the retreat there was a palatable excitement among the team, as we knew we are all working towards something promising and innovative.   

The City Energy Project is a joint initiative of NRDC and the Institute for Market Transformation (IMT) to create healthier and more prosperous American cities by improving the energy efficiency of existing buildings. More than half of the carbon emissions produced in most U.S. cities comes from buildings, and unlocking the benefits of energy efficiency is a critical way to curb a building’s energy use and carbon emissions.    

During the retreat, NRDC’s Urban Solutions program hosted a reception for the City Energy Project advisors and honored guests. At the event, the City Advisors engaged with representatives from the project’s funders—Bloomberg Philanthropies, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and the Kresge Foundation—as well as senior White House staff, Administration officials, business leaders, and executives from the nonprofit community.  The evening opened with remarks from Shelley Poticha, the director of the Urban Solutions program at NRDC, and Cliff Majersik, Executive Director of IMT. Frances Beinecke, President of NRDC, was the guest speaker.

Frances Beinecke addresses the reception attendees.

Beinecke’s remarks started with her memory of cities. “I remember a time when cities were seen as environmental nightmares, when dirty air and dirty water were the norm  People dreamed of fleeing to somewhere better. Now people flock to cities—they see possibility. This transformation is momentous. It means urban living has improved for more people. It also means urban living is helping solve the biggest challenge of our time: climate change.” Beinecke emphasized NRDC’s role in transforming cities into pioneers of energy efficiency, resource conservation, and innovative transportation solutions, and called upon the City Energy Project and its supporters to focus and expand these efforts.

A key feature of the City Energy Project is the support we have received from our partners.  As Cliff Majersik reflected, “From the beginning, the City Energy Project has been built on partnership.  The key to our success is the diverse array of partners representing the business, labor, real estate, environmental, philanthropic, government, academic, faith, design, legal, scientific, and finance communities. I'm thrilled that so many key partners were represented at the reception.”

The energetic atmosphere at the reception was a testament to the quality of the people the City Energy Project has been able to bring together.  Shelley Poticha put it best in saying, “I was absolutely bowled over by the collective talent of the CEP City Advisors. They are all rock stars, and when they come together, it is clear they are going to make a big difference for the people living in their communities.”  City Energy Project national staff like myself completely agree.  We are ready to support our city advisors and their work, and cannot wait to share great stories coming out their endeavors.  


This post was co-written by MAP Summer Fellow, Dylan Anslow.