DOE awards $1.3 million to encourage data-driven local energy planning

energy efficiency elp 3

In support of cities' efforts to reduce energy waste and greenhouse gas emissions and increase the use of energy efficiency technologies, the Department of Energy selected three projects to help cities integrate energy analysis and data into their strategic decision making across all clean energy sectors.

As part of the Cities Leading through Energy Analysis and Planning (Cities-LEAP) project, the awardees will play a key role in developing data-driven energy policies, programs, and projects that support local energy and climate goals.

The selected projects totaling nearly $1.3 million will produce strong evidence of effective practices and processes that:

·      Increase the ability of local or tribal governments to integrate, analyze, and understand varied datasets to pursue opportunities to improve energy intensity or energy-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at a reasonable cost; and

·      Incorporate those insights into local or tribal government actions that can lead to quantifiable reductions in community-wide energy intensity or energy-related GHG emissions.

The projects selected for today's funding are:

·      Bellevue, Washington: The city of Bellevue will lead a team including the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments; the city of Aspen, Colorado; the city of Houston, Texas; King County, Washington; the city of Santa Monica, California; ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability; and Cventure LLC, to develop a framework for isolating external factors from the impact of actions in existing GHG emissions inventories. Local government team members have a long history of collecting energy and other datasets for the purposes of estimating the GHG emissions inventories of their communities and municipalities. This project intends to provide insight into the effectiveness of local actions and fill a clear analytical gap that would be valuable to a wide range of local governments and their communities.

·      Portland, Oregon: The city of Portland and its partners, New Buildings Institute, Earth Advantage, the Energy Trust of Oregon, and Portland State University, intend to bridge the gap between the city's building energy disclosure ordinance and commercial building permitting process. The team will assemble an integrated set of data about commercial buildings from multiple agencies and analyze it to identify the policy and regulatory interventions that have the greatest impact on energy performance, as well as future opportunities to further improve performance. As part of the project, the city plans to upgrade its building permits database, so that the contained information is amenable to systematic analysis and searching.

·      Upper Coastal Plan Council of Governments: The Upper Coastal Plain Council of Governments in North Carolina and its partners, North Carolina State University, North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association, Vermont Law School, Terracel Energy, North Carolina Justice Center, and the University of South Carolina, plan to develop a framework for integrating data on energy efficiency program participation, demographics, housing and energy use. Of specific interest are low-income residents and use of energy efficiency programs to alleviate energy poverty. The data analytics will help improve energy efficiency program designs tailored toward meeting both energy-related objectives, as well as social objectives.

The awards complement Cities-LEAP on-going research that will be released in an upcoming report demonstrating national technical CO2 abatement potential and economic impacts using unique new City Energy Profile data.

Preliminary results from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory report, Estimating the National Carbon Abatement Potential of City Policies: A Data Driven Approach, estimate the national technical CO2 abatement potential and economic impacts of city CO2 reduction actions using a dataset of energy use in over 23,400 cities.

The report, which will be published in October, is supported by data from two new Cities-LEAP online tools, The City Energy Profile tool, which is available on the State and Local Energy Data website and the Local Energy Toolbox. These public online tools are designed to help the Cities-LEAP awardees and hundreds of other local governments implement and demonstrate innovative approaches to strategic energy decision making.

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