Mayor Jorge O. Elorza today announced that Providence is one of 10 new cities joining the City Energy Project, a united effort to address the largest source of energy use and climate pollution in America’s urban centers and buildings. The project is expected to save Providence residents and businesses as much as $20 million on their annual energy bills by 2030. By the same year, the 20 participating cities combined have the potential to save annually more than $1.5 billion in energy bills annually and reduce carbon pollution by more than 9.6 million metric tons, equivalent to taking 2 million cars off the road for a year.
“Last spring I set a goal for Providence to become carbon neutral by 2050. Since buildings account for 70% of our citywide carbon emissions, this investment in the energy efficiency of our largest buildings will have a significant impact,” said Mayor Jorge Elorza. “This is another step towards making Providence a leader in environmental justice.”
A joint project of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Institute for Market Transformation (IMT), the City Energy Project works with participating cities to create healthier, more prosperous American cities by making buildings more efficient, in turn boosting local economies and reducing harmful pollution. Joining the project today are: Des Moines, Iowa; Fort Collins, Co.; Miami-Dade County, Fla.; New Orleans; Pittsburgh; Providence, R.I.; Reno, Nev.; San Jose; St. Louis; and St. Paul, Minn.
“Mayors have the power to make real progress in combating climate change just by looking to their skylines,” said Shelley Poticha, director of the Urban Solutions program at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “The City Energy Project works with mayors who are in-tune with the needs of local businesses and residents to develop plans that reduce climate pollution and wasted energy in buildings. By joining today, these mayors are demonstrating that local leadership and local improvements can have a significant global impact in this urgent fight.”
Funded by a partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and The Kresge Foundation, the project launched in January 2014 with 10 pioneering cities: Atlanta; Boston; Chicago; Denver; Houston; Kansas City, Mo.; Los Angeles; Orlando; Philadelphia; and Salt Lake City. In December 2015, the project’s funders announced an additional $10.5 million investment to expand the project’s reach in the U.S. to the new cities joining today.
Projected Economic and Environmental Benefits
If U.S. buildings were considered a nation, they would rank third in global energy consumption, using more primary energy than all major energy consuming nations except the U.S. and China. What’s more, buildings are the single largest user of energy and source of carbon pollution in the U.S., with much of the energy consumed wasted by inefficient systems and operations. In 2015, commercial and industrial buildings in Providence used 10,454,392 mmbtus, which is equal to almost 1 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.
“Improving the energy efficiency of buildings not only helps residents, owners, tenants, businesses, cities, and utilities save money, it also increases property value, creates jobs, reduces harmful pollution, and creates healthier spaces,” said Cliff Majersik, Executive Director of IMT. “We’re proud to expand the work of the City Energy Project to cities such as Providence to help unlock the enormous benefits offered through increased investment in energy efficiency and create permanent markets that can drive continual return on these investments.”
How It Works
Through the City Energy Project, Providence will work with stakeholders to develop a locally tailored plan comprising multiple integrated strategies to significantly reduce building energy use, recognizing that a suite of initiatives can make more progress in each city than one program or policy could alone. In addition to providing efficiency expertise and guidance on initiative planning, design and implementation, the City Energy Project also offers a platform for peer-to-peer sharing of lessons learned and best practices.
“The Office of Energy Resources is pleased to support the City’s efforts to increase efficient use of its largest buildings and strengthen sustainability in Providence,” said OER Commissioner Carol Grant. “We are working on a lot of exciting projects right now, and I think the City Energy Project will serve as a wonderful complement to the nationally-recognized energy efficiency work we are conducting statewide. I look forward to partnering with the City of Providence and helping our capital city lead by example.”
The energy efficiency solutions that CEP will help Providence develop are flexible to Providence’s unique situation, supporting the following goals:
• Promote efficient building operations: Strong building energy performance can be achieved through efficient operations and maintenance, and the training of facilities personnel.
• Encourage private investment: Common-sense solutions to financial and legal barriers to energy efficiency should be adopted to increase private investment in building energy improvements.
• Bolster city leadership: Cities will lead by example and reduce taxpayer-funded energy consumption in municipal buildings, and encourage the private sector to match their actions.
• Promote transparency: Building energy performance information should be transparent and accessible to enable market demand and competition for energy-efficient buildings.
“Emerald Cities Rhode Island is excited to partner with the City of Providence on the Cities Energy Project. Increasing awareness of energy efficiency opportunities isn’t just good for the environment it benefits the whole economy. The green jobs sector is one of the fastest growing sectors in the RI economy because of programs like these,” said Brigid Ryan, Local Director, Emerald Cities. “Emerald Cities is proud to work collaboratively with the City to ensure there is a direct link between improving our environment, improving our economy and ensuring equity in the resulting jobs creation.”