Many local governments are leading the way in adopting energy efficient technologies, developing and implementing innovative energy solutions, and maximizing the use of renewable energy sources. NLC's Sustainability Program supports and encourages all cities to lead by example by taking steps that reduce energy use throughout their communities as well as by providing information and resources to help businesses and residents implement similar initiatives.


Achieving Energy Efficiency through Weatherization (2010)
Local governments are taking steps to bolster the energy efficiency of residential, commercial and pub­lic buildings through weatherization projects and policies.  This guide examines the multiple benefits of weatherization and the action steps cities can take, while highlighting several examples of innovative city initiatives.

How Cities Can Work to Reduce Fuel Consumption and Increase Efficiency of Services (2009)
Municipal governments face increasing pressures on their budgets and are being forced to make difficult decisions about service delivery. This guide helps local elected officials take a hard look at one area in which efficiencies are possible.

Creating Green Affordable Housing (2009)
By capitalizing on funding for green affordable housing practices, city officials can incorporate sustainable building design into public housing developments, resulting in lower energy bills for residents, a reduction in pollution and landfill waste, and improved occupant health, comfort and productivity.  This guide provides strategies and action steps for planning, financing and building affordable, sustainable housing, and highlights the experiences of nine cities.

Alternative Fuel Programs for Municipal Fleets (2008)
In order to reduce costs, and as part of a larger effort to decrease fossil fuel dependence, cities are exploring alternative fuel programs for municipal fleets.  Some local governments are enjoying financial benefits from reduced fuel consumption, as well as societal benefits including improved air quality and lower greenhouse gas emissions.  This City Practice Brief showcases the efforts of ten cities across the country to lead by example and improve the sustainability of their municipal operations.

Global Models in Sustainable Energy (2007)
City and town governments are significant consumers of energy and producers of greenhouse gases. Programs with the longest track record for success often come from outside the United States, and this resource offers examples of sustainable energy programs being carried out in cities across the globe.

Greenroofs (2006)
The use of sustainable building practices can alleviate negative impacts from urbanization including urban heat islands, air pollution, stormwater runoff and groundwater contamination.  This guide discusses the tangible benefits of greenroofs, as well as city policies and practices that can promote their implementation, and highlights examples of successful greenroof programs.

Past Events

The Following workshop was held at the Green Cities Conference, one of four concurrent conferences at the Congress of Cities and Exposition held in Phoenix, November 9-12, 2011.

Energize Your Community: Preparing for the Smart Grid and Electric Vehicles
Emerging technologies brought forth through the development of the smart grid and current deployments of electric vehicles are having a transformative impact on the energy demands of cities. And while both present exciting opportunities to diversify and reduce energy consumption across the country, many questions regarding "next steps" for local leaders still remain. In this session utility and federal experts will discuss specific aspects and synergistic qualities of smart grid and electric vehicle technologies, their application and the important roles of local government. Come learn what strategies, tools and resources are available for your city to prepare for and take advantage of opportunities within this rapidly expanding energy landscape.

Moderator: Matt Appelbaum, Councilmember, City of Boulder, Colorado

Additional Resources and Handouts:

Sustaining Sustainability: Finance Strategies for Residential and Commercial Energy EfficiencyThe word is out - going "green" (sustainability) saves "green" (money) - but in a financially constrained environment, what strategies and resources are available for cities to invest in sustainability efforts or support the continuation of existing programs? In this session representatives from local government and business communities will discuss two specific strategies - on-bill financing and commercial PACE - that cities can and are using to advance energy efficiency throughout their communities. Come hear from some of the leading voices in the field and learn about these emerging finance opportunities!

Moderator: Amy Bolton, Sonoma County Water Agency/ Applied Solutions

Solar America Communities: Getting Started with Solar in Your Community
This workshop will provide an overview of important concepts related to local solar installations, including technologies, costs, and barriers. It will examine how to create a local-level solar program; how to incorporate solar into comprehensive, energy, and sustainability plans; how to finance solar projects; and how to install solar on municipal and other community facilities.

Solar America Communities is a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) program designed to increase the use and integration of solar energy in communities across the United States. For more information visit

Moderator: Casey Johnston, Renewable Energy Program Director, ICLEI

  • Andrea Luecke, Executive Director of the Solar Foundation
  • Chad Laurent, Meister Consultants Group
  • Tad McGalliard, Director of Sustainability, ICMA
  • Bruce Plenk, Solar Energy Coordinator, City of Tucson, Arizona

Additional Resources and Handouts:

Financing Solar Energy Projects: The Role of Local GovernmentWorkshop from the 2010 Congress of Cities focusing on strategies cities can use to fund photovoltaic installations throughout their communities. Representatives from the cities of Denver, Colo. and St. Paul, Minn., along with an expert from the Department of Energy discuss successful solar programs and several financing tools including tax credits, bonds, PPA's, and solar leases.

Nation's Cities Weekly Articles

More Cities Push for Building Energy Transparency (August 22, 2011)
Buildings account for roughly 70 percent of U.S. electricity usage and nearly 40 percent of total carbon emissions, reducing the amount of energy used by buildings is crucial to the hope of making cities more sustainable, and as the nation strives to cut energy use in cities, skilled green jobs will be added to local economies.

Clean Cities Can Help Local Governments Pave the Way for Electric Vehicles (May 16, 2011)
As communities throughout the country grapple with rising gas prices, electric vehicles and hybrids are getting more attention than ever.  The U.S. Department of Energy's Clean Cities initiative offers local governments valuable tools and resources for successful deployment of electric vehicles (EVs) and charging infrastructure.

NLC Briefs Congressional Staff on the PACE Program (February 21, 2011)
NLC has joined with the National Association of Counties (NACo) and the PACENOW coalition to advocate for federal legislation providing local governments the authority to continue PACE programs that finance home and business improvements resulting in increased energy efficiency.

PACE Clean Energy Program Dealt Setback (August 16, 2010)
An innovative energy finance strategy, the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program, was unexpectedly suspended following an objection by the Federal Housing Finance Agency. This article outlines the importance of this program to local communities and steps NLC has taken in response.

Legislators Commend City Innovation, Ask for Additional EECBG Funding (April 19, 2010)
Presents summaries of energy saving initiatives across five cities as a result of Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) funds and provides an update on the federal bipartisan effort supporting the continuation of this important program.

A Local Perspective: The Energy Efficiency Mantra (April 12, 2010)
Vice-Mayor of Cambridge, Mass. and 2010 Chairwoman of NLC's Energy, Environment, and Natural Resources (EENR) Committee Henrietta Davis shares key messages on the importance of energy efficiency for local government from the 2010 National Symposium on Market Transformation.

EECBG Helps Cities Take the Lead on Energy (March 15, 2010)
Highlights the efforts of four cities using Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) funds. Examples demonstrate the range of energy saving programs made possible through this program - including residential weatherization, expanded transportation options, lighting upgrades and municipal operations.

NLC to Highlight Cities' EECBG Programs (March 8, 2010)
To demonstrate the important impact Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) funds have had on local governments' abilities to implement energy and cost saving programs throughout their communities NLC continues to reach out to cities and towns to request their stories of success and share updates from the U.S. Department of Energy regarding the status of this program.


Guide to Purchasing Green Power: Renewable Electricity, Renewable Energy Certificates, and On-Site Renewable Generation. (2010)
Joint publication of the U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, World Resources Institute, and the Center for Resource Solutions summarizing the costs, benefits, options, and strategies for governments and organizations interested in purchasing or generating renewable energy.