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Nathalie Osborn
Director, Smart Grid Initiatives

As we look towards creating smarter, cleaner, accessible and sustainable communities, more and more cities are taking responsibility for powering their clean energy futures. It’s become common place for cities to have developed policies, sustainability goals and climate action plans, and many are investing in energy efficiency, electric vehicle charging and renewable energy. Cities are implementing smart IoT solutions – from smart parking, networked street lighting, to leveraging data to make wiser decisions about energy use and create innovative, accessible and sustainable city services.

Over 280 cities & counties have pledged their “We Are Still In” commitments to the Paris Climate Agreement and governors representing 25 states have signed on to the United States Climate Alliance. Here in Michigan, the City of Detroit recently published their Sustainability Action Agenda and communities both large and small have made commitments to Michigan Climate Action Plans and signed on as Michigan Green Communities. The City of Berkeley, CA, recently made news as the first city to ban natural gas in all newly constructed buildings leveraging increased building electrification to support reducing greenhouse gas emissions.


Cities sharing their success stories

In early July, I attended the DOE Better Buildings Summit in Washington, D.C. excited to hear the presentations and discussions about how local governments are leading clean energy, water and transportation efforts in their communities. Chris Catro, The City of Orlando Sustainability Director, shared how tourism impacts their energy and sustainability efforts. The city is successfully partnering with the hospitality industry to create impactful solutions to account for the 75 million visitors to Orlando each year. By the way, that equates to a ratio of 255 tourists for each city resident!

The cities of Chicago and Milwaukee shared presentations on how they have successfully engaged with local building owners and property managers through established challenge programs to reduce energy use, water consumption and increased adoption of renewables.

The conference also included an engaging local government meet-up for focused roundtable discussions with peers on one of seven elected focus areas: 1) alternative fuel vehicles and advanced mobility, 2) building resilience, 3) energy equity, 4) engaging real-estate owners, 5) next generation building performance policies, 6) strategies for implementing energy efficiency and renewables, and 7) utility engagement.


How are cities measuring up on their clean energy programs & policies?

In late July, ACEEE released their fourth annual City Clean Energy Scorecard, evaluating 75 large cities on commitments towards energy efficiency, renewable energy and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The 2019 report is the most comprehensive to date, evaluating city policy performance metrics and highlighting actions to take in five key areas:  1) government operations, 2) community initiatives, 3) building operations 4) transportation and 5) electric & gas utilities.

While Boston continues to hold the top score, I was excited to see five midwestern cities displaying leadership within the top 25:  Minneapolis, Chicago, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Columbus. You can learn more about the 2019 City Clean Energy Scorecard results on this ACEEE presentation, and hear from leaders from some of the top scoring cities.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, whose city ranks fourth, shares insights on their Green Zones prioritizing resources to address pollution and poverty solutions, and residential energy benchmarking disclosures for renters and at the time of home sales. Cincinnati is also recognized as one of three emerging cities to watch for their innovative Green Cincinnati Plan and commitments to a suite of clean energy and transportation goals.


How can my city take steps forward?

While programs like the City Energy Project offer a wealth of resources to help with understanding energy use, engaging community stakeholders, prioritizing policies/programs and measuring results; getting started can be overwhelming. As can finding funding and developing public-private partnerships.

NextEnergy wants to help make it simpler. What are your municipality’s greatest clean energy and mobility challenges?  Whether your community is looking for smart parking, electrified fleets or charging solutions; advanced lighting, or more efficient and resilient ways to deliver clean energy to your residents and businesses, we want to hear about it.

Take a step forward towards powering your city’s clean energy future by completing our short questionnaire. Our team will review your challenge, attempt to match you with one of our technology developers, and if a match yields a viable solution, work with you to develop a customized program management case with recommendations for funding.


Connect with Nathalie!
On LinkedIN
Twitter: @OsbornNathalie


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