A state’s own facilities, fleets, and operations offer a unique opportunity for state governments to lead by example, incorporating energy efficiency measures into their facilities and achieving significant energy cost savings. State governments have often become leaders in energy efficiency by taking action through legislation or executive order to improve efficiency in their own buildings and vehicles. These policies help improve the environmental and economic performance of states’ assets while promoting energy conservation to the broader public.
State and local governments operate many facilities, including office buildings, public schools, colleges, and universities, and the energy costs to run these facilities can account for as much as 10% of a typical government’s annual operating budget. State vehicle fleets require a considerable amount of resources, which can be targeted with LBE policies as well. State governments operate fleets of about 500,000 vehicles, ranging from about 1,000 to more than 50,000 per state. In doing so, states incur operation and maintenance costs of about $2.5 billion in total, ranging from $7 million to $250 million.
The most widely adopted measure at the state level is a mandatory energy savings target for new and existing state government facilities. The building requirements encourage states to invest in efficient new building construction and retrofit projects, lowering energy bills and promoting economic development in the energy services and construction sectors.
States also pursue efficient vehicle fleet policies, creating an opportunity for states to significantly reduce fuel costs and create a hedge against rising fuel prices. Some states require the purchase of a certain proportion of alternative fuel while others require a percentage of vehicles be hybrid or use alternative fuel. The presence of a definitive efficiency standard, however, is an optimal tool that ensures a reduction in fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.
Across the country, LBE initiatives have proven to be a popular way for states to begin implementing energy efficiency policy. Leading by example will be a major policy focus for state governments moving forward with strengthened energy budgets due to Recovery Act funding and other sources.