mayors from 10 major U.S. cities announced a joint effort – the City Energy
Project – to significantly boost energy efficiency in buildings, their biggest source
of energy consumption and climate pollution.
Boston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Orlando,
Chicago, Houston, Kansas City, Denver, Salt Lake City and Los Angeles are the
first cities to sign on. Some of them already lead on Energy Star and LEED-certified buildings, and they want to do more.
The 10 cities will craft their own plans for boosting
efficiency, with help from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and
the Institute for Market Transformation. It’s funded by a partnership with Bloomberg
Philanthropies, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and The Kresge Foundation.
They’ll share best practices, such as the new requirement for cool roofs in LA.
The initiative is expected to cut 5 million to 7 million tons of carbon
emissions a year – equivalent to the greenhouse gases produced by as much as 1.5
million passenger vehicles a year. Savings are huge – about $1 billion annually
on energy bills.
people aren’t aware that buildings are the single largest source of U.S. carbon
emissions, representing 40% nationwide – more than either the transportation or
industrial sectors. That number is even more dramatic at the city level, with 50%-75%
of carbon emissions in most U.S. cities coming from buildings.
"In our cities, big buildings often run 24/7. Offices are
continuously heated or cooled, elevators are running, lights, computers and
equipment are on, continuously humming. Because they’re constantly in operation
— you can’t really unplug a building," explains Peter Lehner, Executive Director of NRDC. "What’s really galling is that buildings waste as much as 30% of the energy
have the skills and technology to make buildings more efficient, but we need a
coordinated effort by major cities and the private sector to make it happen,” explains
Cliff Majersik, executive director of the Institute for Market Transformation. “This project will give city
leaders and the real estate industry the support they need.”
They point out that boosting building efficiency will not
only directly reduce the pollution that’s turbocharging weather across the country,
it will reduce the need for new power plants, cleaning the air we all breathe. This
win-win effort will also create jobs in a range of fields and skill levels –
from electricians to architects, construction workers to engineers, and
building technicians to software providers. Since efficient buildings are in great
demand, it will raise property values, while lowering energy bills, reducing
the cost of living and doing business, and freeing up money that can flow back
into the local economy.
U.S. buildings consuming more primary energy than countries like Russia and
India, the scale of the opportunity to optimize building energy performance is
significant,” notes John Mandyck, Chief Sustainability Officer at UTC Building & Industrial Systems.
“Cities collaborating and implementing creative, practical energy efficiency
polices can go a long way to reducing America’s $450 billion annual energy bill
and carbon emissions.”
Another program along these lines is President Obama’s Better Buildings Challenge.