Enter your email - we won't share it!
Almost one-quarter of statewide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are attributed to electricity and natural gas consumption in buildings. Saving energy is one of the most cost-effective ways reduce GHG emissions. Energy efficiency can be achieved as part of the design and construction of new buildings as well as retrofits to existing buildings. Additional energy savings can be achieved in local government infrastructure by installing energy efficient outdoor lighting such as traffic signals and street lights. Check out the Build Green section in the Toolkit for more suggestions on ways to save energy.
Change Energy Use Behavior
Several no-cost energy saving tips government employees can do to reduce energy demand include:
- Set computers and monitors to "sleep" when inactive for more than a few minutes.
- Turn off office equipment at night, over the weekend, and during holidays.
- Make duplexing (double-side printing) the default mode for copiers and printers.
- Plug equipment into surge protectors and turn them off when not in use.
- Reduce hours street lights are on each day
Plan a Comprehensive Energy Management Program
Appoint an Energy Manager
By appointing an energy manager, local governments identify a lead staff person responsible for developing and implementing a comprehensive energy management program. An energy manager is in charge of planning, procurement and utilization of energy resources at a property, facility, or portfolio of properties. Energy managers often recommend policy for energy efficiency and conservation, develop long-range plans, and provide reports on the effectiveness of the energy program.
Adopt an Energy Policy
By adopting energy policy, cities and counties can identify clear goals and objectives to guide energy management planning and action. Energy goals describe broad intentions such as improving energy efficiency of municipal facilities. Objectives outline quantitative goals and tasks to verify and measure program success. Consider adopting a policy that goes beyond energy efficiency to include a more comprehensive green building approach. Some cities and counties have adopted a policy to require all new construction of municipal buildings to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. Similarly, local governments adopt policies to mandate GreenPoint Rated for new construction of residential projects. Please see Build Green for additional recommendations on how to save money.
Convene an Energy Team
A team of internal city/county staff and external stakeholders can be useful in developing an energy action plan. Energy managers can recruit key staff with expertise in priority policy areas to join the energy team. External stakeholders can provide additional technical guidance when developing an energy action plan. Be sure to include your electricity and natural gas utility as part of your energy team. Additional team members should include water utilities and waste haulers for local governments that would like to take a sustainability approach.
Develop an Energy Action Plan
Energy efficiency is a key component of a Climate Action Plan. Cities and counties should develop an Energy Action Plan by identifying opportunities for reductions in energy consumption and methods to increase conservation and efficiency. An action plan is usually completed after energy audits are conducted for existing municipal facilities. Information collected during energy audits can help to prioritize a plan for action to reduce energy usage. The Energy Action Plan outlines a roadmap for continuous improvement over time and should be included as the Energy component of the local governments Climate Action Plan.
Develop a Measurement and Verification Plan
A measurement and verification (M&V) plan establishes the metrics that will be used to measure baseline energy performance and verify energy savings in the future. Some cities/counties may decide to do all of the energy management work in-house and would not need to develop a comprehensive M&V plan. However, energy managers may still want to measure and verify energy savings, which is important for energy accounting. A M&V plan can help local governments to see if their predicted energy savings were achieved.
Assess Energy Performance
Measure and Track Energy Usage
According to the California Energy Commission, “Energy accounting is a system to record, analyze and report energy consumption and cost on a regular basis. It can be one of the most cost-effective tools school districts, cities, counties, colleges and other organizations can use to cut energy costs.” Before getting started, check out the CEC’s publication Energy Accounting: A Key Tool in Managing Energy Costs, which will help you to get organized.
Contact your local utility to obtain records of energy consumption data from municipal buildings. As mandated by state law (AB 1103, Saldana, Statutes of 2007, chapter 533), utilities are required to upload energy consumption data for commercial buildings into ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager for at least the most recent 12 months. Local governments can use this software track building energy usage over multiple years. Beginning in January, 2010, nonresidential building owners will be required to disclose ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager benchmarking data and ratings, for the most recent 12-month period, to a prospective buyer, lessee, or lender.
Develop an Energy Profile
Once you track energy usage for individual facilities or a portfolio of properties, this information can be used to develop an energy profile. An energy profile provides the basic information needed to evaluate each building’s potential for energy savings. It can also help to develop a baseline of energy usage and benchmark energy performance compared to similar buildings.
Retrofit Existing Buildings and Local Streets & Roads
Conduct Building Commissioning for Municipally Owned Facilities
Commissioning is a systematic process to help ensure building systems are designed, installed, tested, perform, and capable of being operated and maintained according to owner's operational needs. The commissioning process documents the quality of building system performance and facilitates improved building operation without requiring any major renovations. According to a 2004 study of 224 buildings in 21 states, an average of 11 deficiencies was found in each existing building and 28 deficiencies per new building. The median cost of commissioning existing buildings was found to total $0.27/ft2 with whole building energy savings of 15 percent and a payback time of 0.7 years. New construction commissioning costs were about 0.6% of total construction costs or $1/ft2 with a median payback of 4.8 years. Evan Mills with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory concludes that “commissioning is one of the most cost-effective means of improving energy efficiency in commercial buildings.” The California Commissioning Collaborative offers a variety of commissioning tools and information to help get you started.
Use EnergyIQ to Benchmark Municipal Facilities
EnergyIQ offers the next generation of energy benchmarking. It is the first action-oriented tool for non-residential buildings. EnergyIQ benchmarks energy usage, costs, and features for 62 building types and provides a greenhouse gas emissions estimation for energy consumed. This tool generates a list of opportunities and recommended actions for building retrofits. EnergyIQ is intended for preliminary opportunity assessment and lays the groundwork for investment-grade energy audits and engineering calculations to determine energy efficiency upgrades.
Conduct Energy Audits of Existing Municipal Facilities
An energy audit identifies how energy is used in a facility, and then recommends ways to retrofit buildings to improve energy efficiency and reduce energy costs. There are several types of energy audits, which can identify ways to improve energy efficiency and reduce energy costs. California Energy Commission’s Energy Partnership Program provides technical assistance to cities and counties to conduct energy audits and identify cost-effective energy saving opportunities for local government facilities. Cities and counties can also partner with private utilities who may offer free on-site energy audits of municipal buildings. These partnership programs typically help local governments retrofit their own facilities and strive to accomplish the goals in the California Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan.
Join the Energy Star Challenge
As part of the Energy Star Challenge, local governments commit to completing energy efficiency retrofits of existing government-owned buildings to improve energy efficiency of existing buildings by at least 10%.
Complete Energy Retrofits with a Fast Payback Period
- Lighting retrofits: Replace standard incandescent light bulbs with low-watt compact fluorescent bulbs. All T12 fluorescent lighting can be replaced with Super T8s.
- Energy management systems: Install occupant sensors in vast use areas, which will automatically turn off lights when areas are not in use. For larger buildings, use complete energy management systems that include thermostat control and timing. In smaller buildings, install programmable thermostats.
- As municipal appliances wear out, replace them with Energy Star equipment.
- Install Controllers for Beverage Vending Machines: Many beverage vending machines keep beverages cold by a compressor running 24 hours a day.The compressor run time could be reduced by installing a vending machine controller. The controller has a sensor detecting the presence of a moving object. When there is no one around, the controller will lock out the compressor for a period of time and run the compressor again just to keep the beverage cool. The energy used by the compressor is assumed to be reduced by 35 percent annually.
Participate in a Demand Response Program
Some utilities in California offer Demand Response programs where local governments can agree to power down energy usage during peak demand on alert days. Cities and counties that participate in Demand Response programs may have lower energy rates year round.
Improve Energy Efficiency in Street Lights and Traffic Signals
One way to conserve energy is to decrease the average daily time street lights are on. Additionally, cities and counties can install energy efficient light-emitting diode (LED) luminaires for traffic signals and street lights. Since street lighting may represent one of largest energy costs for local governments, installing LED luminaires provides an opportunity to achieve significant energy savings. According to a recent demonstration project in San Francisco, installing white LED luminaires was considered technically and economically feasible. Annual energy cost savings ranged from 50% to 70% compared to standard high pressure sodium (HPS) lamps. LED luminaires provided a shorter payback period in new construction (3.7 to 15.3 years) compared to retrofits (7.4 to 20.4 years). Other benefits of LED technology include reduced maintenance costs, longer life resulting in less frequent replacement, improved lighting quality, and avoided hazardous materials such as mercury, which is found in conventional HPS lamps.
Consider Energy Efficiency for New Construction
Integrate Passive Solar Design into New Construction Projects
Passive solar design eliminates the need for mechanical heating and cooling, which can save energy and greenhouse gas emissions. According to the Sourcebook for Green and Sustainable Building, "passive solar design refers to the use of the sun's energy for the heating and cooling of living spaces. In this approach, the building itself or some element of it takes advantage of natural energy characteristics in materials and air created by exposure to the sun. Passive systems are simple, have few moving parts, and require minimal maintenance and require no mechanical systems." See the green building action area for more information.
Design New Facilities to Exceed Title 24 Energy Code
By constructing new facilities to exceed Title 24 Energy Code by 15 percent (Tier 1), 30 percent (Tier 2), or more they will use less energy and save money over time. Energy managers can request design teams to develop a building energy simulation model, which demonstrates how the new facility meets either of these goals to exceed Title 24 energy code by 15 percent or 30 percent. Since most commercial buildings use the performance approach for Title 24 compliance, they can use the California Energy Comission-approved Title 24 software to model energy consumption and demonstrate Tier 1 and/or Tier 2 compliance. These performance based thresholds are consistent with the Go Solar Initiative and will also put local governments on the path towards Zero Net Energy.
Initiate an Education Program with Government Employees
Energy efficient equipment is ineffective unless individual behavior is aligned with your city/county energy goals. Local government employees should be educated on the city’s/county’s GHG reduction goals, its Climate Action Plan, and Energy Management Plan. Local government employees can use strategies implemented in municipal facilities to teach residents and business owners about the benefits and cost savings of energy efficiency and conservation. Cities and counties can also partner with local utilities to develop an Energy Watch program to help local organizations implement energy efficiency projects at their facilities.
Policy for Community Action
Adopt a Local Ordinance to Exceed Title 24 Energy Code
Local governments can pass an ordinance to adopt more stringent building standards than the Title 24 Energy Code. Visit the CEC website for a sample ordinance.
Pass an Ordinance for Energy Audits and Retrofits
Pass an ordinance to require residential and commercial buildings to undergo audits and meet minimum energy and water efficiency performance standards.
CC License: Attribution-Non-commerical-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic
Learn more about this national call to action to improve energy efficiency by 10% or more in commercial and industrial buildings. Energy Star is not just a label for appliances, it also identifies superior energy performance building using guidelines established by the U.S. EPA and U.S. DOE.
This Best Practices Guide contains helpful tips and tools for cities and counties to improve energy efficiency. Many of the cost-saving actions highlighted in the Local Government Toolkit were derived and provided in more detail as part of the Flex Your Power Best Practices Guide for Local Governments.
ILG CCAN offers a Best Practices Framework, which provides suggestions for local actions in ten climate leadership action areas. Energy efficiency and conservation is one climate leadership opportunity area. ILG CCAN also offers links to energy agencies, financial incentive programs, and case studies.
LGC offers an energy information clearinghouse to keep local governments up to speed on the latest with energy efficiency and conservation. LGC offers a newsletter on current energy events and other relevant information related to climate change.
A collaboration between Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) and Sierra Business Council dedicated to providing innovative energy efficiency solutions for local governments and businesses in Sierra Nevada communities within PG&E territory. Counties Covered: Alpine, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, El Dorado, Lassen, Mariposa, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sierra, Sutter, Tuolumne, Yuba.