Government focusing on energy costs, sustainability
by Mary Scott Nabers,
CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc.
Representatives from companies with energy-related services should be on the doorstep of some public official’s office daily. If ever there was a time to discuss visionary plans and solutions to government executives, that time is now. Elected officials have a laser focus on reducing energy costs and sustainable initiatives.
It is interesting to see how aggressive public officials throughout the country have become in recent months.
- The City of Denver and the county launched what is called the Greenprint Denver sustainability initiative. The City committed to reduce energy use by 20 percent by 2020. Mayor Michael B. Hancock hopes to use the city’s goals to set a standard for nonprofits, private sector buildings and schools.
- Worchester, Massachusetts, has been a pioneer in energy efficiency programs for more than a decade. A curbside recycling program has been operational since 1993. Additionally, Worchester gained membership in the Cities for Climate Protection Campaign in 2003, created the Clean Energy resolution in 2005, gained membership in Local Governments for Sustainability in 2006, adopted a Climate Action Plan in 2007 and was designated as a Massachusetts Green Community in 2010. Most recently, a new program was launched that will encourage even more energy efficiency and sustainability practices.
- The City of Knoxville has implemented an Energy and Sustainability Work Plan, which maps out policies and programs to reduce excess energy consumption and standardize environmentally sustainable practices. The city hopes to reduce long-term utility costs in all city-owned facilities through the creation of an Energy Savings Performance Contract. The objective is to reduce energy usage by 20 percent in the next 5-10 years.
- The Stanislaus (California) County Council of Governments hopes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through efficiency upgrades in transportation systems. The public officials involved in this initiative issued a Sustainable Communities Strategy Vision Survey as a way of involving citizens as they prioritize energy-related efforts. They want to link land use and transportation in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.
- West Palm Beach, Florida, will implement a plan to reduce energy consumption by 14 percent. If they are successful, the effort will result in over $10 million in savings. They have also partnered with neighboring cities in a financing program called the Property Assessed Clean Energy program (PACE) which helps businesses with up-front costs of energy efficiency upgrades.
- The Oregon University System partnered with local nonprofits to develop a plan with the objective of getting their buildings linked to a program called the Living Building Challenge. This program provides guidelines and a framework that qualifies and ranks sustainable buildings throughout the world. Eventually, the Office of Sustainable Development and the Portland Development Commission will partner to create the Oregon Sustainability Center as the world’s first high-rise, net-zero energy, water and carbon emissions building. A feasibility study was funded in 2008, design teams were selected in 2009 and schematic designs were created in 2011. Construction should begin in 2013.
- Earlier this year, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that the Chicago Transit Authority’s (CTA) headquarters had earned the highest possible rating form the U.S. Green Building Council. The facility had already achieved LEED Gold certification, but it was bumped up to LEED platinum status because of additional commitments related to environmental sustainability.