Local Governments & Energy Efficiency
How can you save money, invest more resources in your community, fight climate change, and offset rising energy prices?
Sounds like a trick question, but it’s not! Energy efficiency is the answer to achieving all those goals.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, government agencies spend more than $10 billion a year on energy to provide public services and meet constituent needs. While local governments struggle with tightening budgets, 30% of the energy used to run a typical building – including government buildings – is wasted by inefficiency.
A number of cities across the country, including St. Louis and Kansas City, have participated in the City Energy Project, taking advantage of EPA’s ENERGY STAR program to save energy, lower utility bills, free up additional funds for public services, and demonstrate their environmental leadership.
Energy benchmarking is the first step toward saving energy and money through energy conservation. ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager is a free and secure online tool that tracks energy and water consumption, as well as the associated greenhouse gas emissions. Any building can use ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager to understand their energy and water use, and according to their data, buildings that benchmark for 3 years see an average 7% reduction in energy use.
The good news is that many of the changes to our buildings that can save energy are low or no cost. Changing the settings on your thermostat, sealing those cracks around your doors, changing out your incandescent or fluorescent light bulbs for LEDs – small changes can make a big difference. And financial incentives might be available from your local utility companies. In the St. Louis region, both Ameren Missouri and Spire (formerly Laclede Gas) provide incentives for projects from big to small.
Still have some doubts? Check out the ICMA case study highlighting Kansas City’s work to improve the energy efficiency of their municipal buildings, drive savings in their buildings, and increase their investment in services for their community.
If you’re in east, southwest, or mid-Missouri, St. Louis metro area, or southern Illinois and need some help getting started, contact the U.S. Green Building Council- Missouri Gateway Chapter! Volunteers are available to provide hands-on help setting up an ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager account, entering your energy use, understanding your results and share information about the current energy efficiency incentives available and how your city can take advantage of them.
Lead by example and start benchmarking for great energy efficiency. And remember…