- Cities are creating energy plans to address specific goals and lessen their global impact.
- Energy plans should have clearly defined goals, actions and appropriate metrics.
- The Cities-LEAP project is delivering standardized, localized energy data and analysis.
Such plans vary widely in scope, specificity, time frame, data collection and reporting, according to an analysis of 20 cities conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE). Factors such as electricity fuel type, population density and climate vary by city, and each plays a role in determining the impact that a group of actions has on a city’s energy profile.
The analysis showed that a majority of cities provide a public record of evaluating energy programs or goals. Many also have recently begun reporting metrics annually in reports or online dashboards. For instance, Cleveland, Boston, Minneapolis, Charlottesville and Los Angeles have created user-friendly dashboards displaying energy-related metrics in graphical form over time. Many cities successfully track municipal energy data using ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager or an internal systems.
It's all in the plan
Among the most common actions taken by cities to impact energy use, building certifications was one of the top 10, along with outreach and communication, operational changes and building recommissioning . Other actions involved public transit and other transportation options.
Developing and implementing a plan will help your community address specific energy priorities. The plan should have:
- Clearly stated goal: improve building codes through regular updating and including energy efficient improvement measures
- Specific actions and how they relate to goals: implement building codes or certifications and best practices
- Metrics to measure and track progress: number of certified buildings, energy consumption (MMBtu/year)
Metrics should be published regularly. Focus on metrics that the public can understand and support. With the right data, it will be easier to convince reluctant leadership to adopt specific policies and actions.
Update the plan at appropriate intervals (often annually for sustainability plans) to reevaluate current efforts and streamline future actions. Review goals, achievements and metrics and other indicators of progress.
Other keys to successful energy decision making include:
- Sufficient city staffing and funding to implement energy plan
- Mayors and city councils who champion energy and sustainability issues
- Formalizing and institutionalizing energy commitments and policies
- Collaborating with community stakeholders
- Developing or refining data collection protocols
- Empowering city departments to “own” energy initiatives
- Joining energy challenges and competitions
- Fostering relationships with utilities and public utility commissions
With a carefully developed plan, energy considerations become integrated into other areas of city planning and decision making.
Where to get help
Many cities with energy and climate-related goals have difficulty quantifying progress toward those goals and identifying policies to support them. The DOE analysis also indicates that a lack of standardization in measuring impact and prioritizing actions can impede effective energy decision making.
The DOE's Cities Leading through Energy Analysis and Planning (Cities-LEAP) project attempts to address these issues. Cities-LEAP tools and resources help cities identify and achieve energy priorities through localized data and sound analytical methodologies:
- Database of city energy profiles, searchable by zip code or city
- Cataloged, customizable list of actions from community energy policies
- Building energy performance policy options
With a data-driven understanding of key factors influencing city energy decisions, you can improve your community.
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