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2021 scorecards are in and cities have a lot of work to do in energy efficiency

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Christopher Neely's picture
Independent Local News Organization

Journalist for nearly a decade with keen interest in local energy policies for cities and national efforts to facilitate a renewable revolution. 

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  • Dec 30, 2021
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Improving the energy efficiency of existing buildings is one of the top ways cities can make more progress toward their greenhouse gas emissions goals and reducing the weight carried by existing energy systems, according to a new 2021 scorecard from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. However, cities across the U.S. have had difficulty staying on track with their goal commitments and will have to do more in policy setting and data gathering over the next decade if they are to meet their goals. 

According to the ACEEE report, 63 of the largest American cities have adopted community-wide greenhouse gas emission goals, but only 38 have published data and metrics for these goals and only half of those cities are on track to cross their more immediate goalposts. 

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Among the 100 largest American cities analyzed in the scorecard, ACEEE tallied 177 new steps taken by jurisdictions to "advance clean energy." Only 34% of those new clean energy actions involved policy setting and implementing programs aimed specifically at improving energy efficiency during the "design, siting, construction, renovation, and operation of buildings." Thirty-eight percent were related to cities adopting clean energy plans, partnerships, goals and government procedures; 28% focused on the construction of clean power infrastructure. 

Interestingly, ACEEE highlights racial and social equity as the top priority and true north for cities wanting to improve their commitments to greenhouse gas emissions and energy efficiency. 

"Many cities can improve their scores by creating a formal clean energy decision-making body of historically marginalized community residents," the report reads. "Supporting minority- and women-owned businesses in securing local government clean energy contracts, and pursuing policies and programs designed to reduce the energy use and costs of affordable and rental housing."

The 1B to equity's 1A is policies to improve the energy performance in existing buildings. This is less surprising. Unless we plan to raze old structures, policies on new construction is only going to take us so far and only so quickly. 

"Some cities have yet to adopt energy benchmarking and transparency requirements, an often foundational policy underlying mandates to improve the energy performance of properties," the report reads. "Other cities have adopted these requirements but have yet to pursue building retrocommissioning, retrofit, or energy performance policies."

I'd be interested to better understand the industry's take on the priority of racial and social equity and its real relationship to reaching GHG and energy efficiency goals as soon as possible. 

 

 

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