10 U.S. Cities Work Together to Improve Building Energy Efficiency
As concerns about climate change and energy pollution continue to grow, 10 major cities have teamed up with the City Energy Project (CEP) in a national effort to improve building efficiency.
Buildings, especially big ones, make up the majority of energy use and carbon pollution in cities. If the U.S. building stock were considered a separate nation, it would take third place for the most energy intensive country in the world. Clearly, buildings provide an excellent opportunity for us to cut back on energy usage.
The CEP, which is led by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Institute for Market Transformation(IMT), plans to work with existing government programs to create an integrated efficiency plan in each city. The ten cities are Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Orlando, Philadelphia, and Salt Lake City. These cities are already leaders in energy efficiency, and this collective action will set a strong example for the rest of the country. The cities will work in friendly competition, sharing information about the most effective approaches and learning from each other’s mistakes.
The benefits of having more energy efficient buildings are substantial. More efficient buildings mean less pollution from power plants, better air quality, and lower utility costs. People generally prefer to live in sustainable cities, therefore raising the bar for energy efficiency will make these cities even more attractive for new businesses and innovative individuals.
The CEP hopes to facilitate a 5% to 10% reduction of energy usage in buildings, which could save hundreds of millions of dollars each year.
How exactly will the CEP do this?
Better information and metrics: Without detailed information about a building’s energy usage, a building owner cannot make proper decisions regarding efficiency improvements. By tracking energy usage more precisely with utility tracking and benchmarking, an owner can identify the most important opportunities for improvements and retrofits.
Funding: Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and the Kresge Foundations have donated $9 million in seed funding, which will help alleviate some of the initial financial burden of implementing these efficiency programs.
Starting small: Not all energy efficiency improvements are costly. Roughly half of all energy improvements can be realized by making simple adjustments to how buildings are operated. Turning off lights and cooling systems when they aren’t being used are just a couple examples of these cost-free and very effective adjustments. City lights look beautiful at night, but maybe we don’t need so many to be on all the time.