Connecting state and local government leaders
A new report offers recommendations to governments about better design and implementation of these policies and the program evaluations.
Many local governments are adopting energy-efficiency requirements for existing commercial and residential buildings, but challenges remain because of the lack of comprehensive data on the costs and benefits associated with these policies, according to a recent report by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, an advocacy organization.
Here are some of the recommendations ACEEE says municipalities should consider to craft successful energy-efficiency policies:
Simplify the policy. ACEEE suggests cities collaborate with internal and external stakeholders to determine the level of specificity required for the legislative’s language. This will allow cities to have more flexibility in the rule-making process.
Connect with nonprofits. Support from nonprofits serves as a substitute for more expensive consultant fees while also lowering the costs of design, implementation or both. ACEEE recommends cities reach out to these groups to determine needs and opportunities.
Support the affordable housing sector. Many cities exclude affordable housing from their efficiency policies because some stakeholders' believe compliance would raise rents. To ease these concerns, officials can offer extended deadlines and financial and technical assistance.
Hire additional staff when possible. The organization says increasing full-time staff for "optimal design" will increase the policies’ success.
Leverage one-time costs for future policies and programs. High one-time costs for analysis and policy design can be leveraged to reduce the costs of future policies and programs, ACEEE says.
Use municipal buildings as case studies. Requiring municipal buildings to comply with a policy before it applies to the wider community can provide several benefits, including an opportunity to build relationships with service providers and decrease energy use, costs and greenhouse gas emissions, moving cities closer to their climate goals for municipal operations.
Emphasize program evaluations. This is a crucial tool for understanding impacts and improving policies, ACEEE says. Also, localities should center equity in program evaluations by focusing on data collection, affordability and energy burden.
ACEEE interviewed nine cities with energy-efficiency policies for existing buildings, including ones requiring owners of single-family homes to provide prospective buyers with energy information, and building owners to track and disclose energy use to the municipality, the report says.
The study was conducted to identify the administrative costs and the communitywide benefits of benchmarking, retro-commissioning and time-of-sale energy disclosure policies. ACEEE said it did this to equip decision-makers and advocates with the data needed to advance these energy-efficiency policies for existing buildings.
For more information from the report click here.
Andre Claudio was most recently the assistant editor of Route Fifty.