Quick question: How energy efficient is your city?

Blog | August 28, 2014 - 10:35 am
By David Ribeiro, Senior Researcher

Whenever I go to trivia night, I am amazed by the little factoids I know nothing about. Baseball or Seinfeld trivia, I have that down. Knowing the name of the township in New Jersey, of Algonquian language origin, where Aaron Burr mortally wounded Alexander Hamilton in a duel? Not so much. (It’s Weehawken, by the way.) Even for those of us in the energy efficiency world, there’s always more to learn about efficiency-related programs and policies that have been implemented by states and cities. ACEEE’s State and Local Energy Efficiency Database can help you do just that.

With the recent addition of Kansas City, MO to our database, our trove of local energy efficiency program and policy information has expanded to cover 52 cities. We collected data for 42 cities during our research for the 2013 City Energy Efficiency Scorecard and development of the Local Energy Efficiency Self-Scoring Tool. Since then, ten cities have evaluated their own efforts using the Self-Scoring Tool and submitted the results to us to include in the database. Joining KCMO is Carrboro, NCCharlottesville, VACincinnati, OH; Cleveland, OHMilwaukee, WI; New Orleans, LAProvidence, RI; Richmond, VA; and Salt Lake City, UT. Thanks to those contributions, the information in the database now applies to another 2,750,000 community residents throughout the country. And guess what? There are some interesting trivia questions in there:

  • Does Salt Lake City publicly report to the community on their energy efficiency-related efforts? Yes, they do. Salt Lake City has a Sustainability Dashboard detailing some of the city’s energy initiatives and marking its progress toward achieving them, including annual greenhouse gas emissions reductions and the increase in ENERGY STAR® certified buildings. The same can’t be said of many larger cities, like San Antonio, Miami, or Detroit.

  • Does Richmond have efficient distributed energy systems, such as combined heat and power (CHP)? Yes, lots of them. CHP capacity within Richmond is 276,864 kW, meaning that if the city had 100,000 residents, its capacity would be 135MW. If Richmond had been included in the 2013 City Scorecard, its per-capita capacity figure would have been tops among all cities!

  • Do Milwaukee and Carrboro have car-sharing programs in their cities? Yes and no. Milwaukee residents have access to Zipcar, and Carrboro is evaluating the possibility of a car-sharing program. It’s worth noting that Carrboro’s fellow North Carolinians in Charlotte don’t have a car sharing program yet, either.

  • Does Charlottesville track energy use in their municipal buildings? Yes again. The city tracks the energy use of all municipal facilities and imports it into ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager .

These are just a sample of the city-related questions the database can answer, but there are lots of state energy efficiency questions it can answer, too, like whether a state has an energy efficiency resource standard or incentives for high-efficiency vehicles. And as we progress toward developing the 2015 City Scorecard, to be released early next year, we will be updating entries for all cities in the database and adding more new cities as well. So, if you want to beef up your efficiency knowledge, check out the database!