New Resources Available for Local Governments to Promote Energy Efficiency in Commercial Buildings

by Tammy Zborel

The built environment - in cities and towns, private companies and industrial complexes - represents a significant and continuous investment for building owners and managers. As energy costs associated with ongoing operations, maintenance and daily activities continue to rise, efforts to reduce emissions and control expenses dominate discussions across state and local energy offices. 

To help policymakers address challenges and identify strategies to improve energy efficiency within existing commercial buildings, the State and Local Energy Efficiency Action Network (SEE Action) recently released a series of guides and best practice recommendations. 

Resources cover four strategies that can save energy, reduce expenses and create jobs.
In "Energy Benchmarking, Rating, and Disclosure for Local Governments", the process of measuring, comparing and disclosing energy use is described along with action items specifically tailored for public or privately owned buildings and summaries of existing city policies and resources.

Organization-wide practices to institutionalize and sustain savings across a portfolio of facilities is the subject of "Strategic Energy Management for State and Local Governments". According to the guide, recipients of Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants (EECBG) can use strategic energy management to "sustain and extend their grant-funded energy savings." 

The factsheet "Retro-commissioning for State and Local Governments" presents recommendations to "tune up" a building's equipment to increase efficiency without a major capital investment. For example, retro-commissioning offers 10% to 30% energy savings, dollar savings of two to 10 times the cost, can add up to millions of dollars saved across a building portfolio and can create an estimated five to 15 green jobs per $1 million invested. 

The final guide, "High Performance Leasing for State and Local Governments", focuses on strategies to overcome the "split incentive" problem faced by tenants and property owners by incorporating energy efficiency benefits and cost-sharing practices into lease terms. 

These four resources are available on NLC's Sustainable Cities Institute website ( and can also be found, along with additional resources from the SEE Action Working Groups at: 

SEE Action is a state and local-led effort to achieve all cost-effective energy efficiency by 2020. Facilitated by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), SEE Action offers knowledge, resources and technical assistance to state and local decision makers as they advance energy efficiency policies and programs in their jurisdictions. 

Details: For more information, contact Cody Taylor, at the U.S. Department of Energy or Tracy Narel, at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 

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U.S. EPA Launches 2012 ENERGY STAR National Building Competition 

EPA is kicking off the 2012 ENERGY STAR National Building Competition: Battle of the Buildings! The competition offers commercial building owners and managers - including - a platform to achieve real energy, water and cost savings and be nationally recognized for their efforts. 

During the contest, commercial buildings owners and managers from across the nation will compete in a head-to-head battle to see which of their buildings can reduce energy waste the most. Competitors will have the opportunity to participate in monthly networking sessions, use free competition creative materials and logos and be listed on the competition website. EPA will also promote the competition through traditional and social media. 

This year EPA is making the battle bigger and better than ever by expanding recognition opportunities and offering new ways for organizations to get involved. In addition to recognizing the overall winner and top finishers by building category, EPA will recognize any building that improves its energy efficiency by 20 percent or more. The Agency will also recognize top water savers. Also, parking garages are eligible to compete, as there will be a special category for parking structures in the competition. 

Any commercial building can compete, whether it is an office building, school, church, hotel, stadium or apartment building. To be eligible, a building must be benchmarked in EPA's ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager with complete data entered for calendar year 2011. 

Applications are due by May 23, 2012. Step-by-step instructions and information about the competition is available at

EPA will hold a webinar on How to Apply on May 15, 2012, at 1 pm Eastern. To register visit