The City of New Orleans Announces New Resiliency Initiative: Benchmarking Energy Use of Municipal Buildings

On Wednesday at the Greenbuild Conference, the City of New Orleans announced that it has finished collecting data on the energy use of all 92 municipal buildings in the City, which include libraries, recreation centers, and office space. By collecting and analyzing this data, the City has already identified a few pilot buildings that will benefit from operational and management adjustments to save energy and money. With this data, the City could also identify additional energy upgrades and retrofits that would drastically reduce energy bills.   

The City committed the time and resources to benchmark its buildings as part of a wider plan to become a more sustainable and resilient city.  At the Greenbuild panel, Cedric Grant, Executive Director of the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans and head of the City’s Integrated Infrastructure Management System said, “We measure time differently here [in New Orleans], before Katrina and after.” As New Orleans continues to rebuild and residents continue to return (Grant stated New Orleans’ current population is 70% what it was before Hurricane Katrina), the City is very cognizant that it must “build smarter” and ensure energy efficiency is a priority throughout the city. The more energy efficient a building is, the lower the operational costs. Grant noted that the City could “get a better use of those dollars” by reinvesting in the resilience of the community instead of spending the money on energy bills.    

NRDC is proud to have supported the City on this effort, but the work is not over yet.  The City is leading by example, but the private sector must follow that lead. In New Orleans, municipal operations account for just 5 percent of the total greenhouse gas emissions from the city, ninety-five percent come from the greater community. In most major cities, buildings account for at least fifty percent of the city’s total energy use and carbon pollution. So it is critical that the private sector also show leadership by benchmarking and making operational changes or improvements to drive down energy costs and carbon emissions. Imagine the opportunities for the private sector to invest in the New Orleans community with all the money saved from having more efficient buildings!