City of Kansas City, Mo., Mayor Sly James today announced that Kansas City is joining a 10-city effort to significantly boost energy efficiency in city buildings, a move that could over time lower the energy bills of Kansas City businesses by as much as $55 million annually and cut the equivalent amount of energy generated by 29,000 homes annually.
Read the Kansas City Star story.
"Kansas City is leading the way in a variety of categories but sustainability is certainly a key area for our community's growth," said Mayor James. "Our city's future is as bright as its past because of smart strategies like the City Energy Project. I am so proud that our local government is setting a positive example for our city and for the nation."
Kansas City will be participating in the new City Energy Project, an initiative from the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Institute for Market Transformation that is designed to create healthier, more prosperous American cities by targeting their largest source of energy use and climate pollution: buildings. The following cities will be joining Kansas City as the project's first participants: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Orlando, Philadelphia and Salt Lake City.
Funded by a partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and The Kresge Foundation, the City Energy Project will help the 10 cities craft their own customized plans for boosting energy efficiency in their buildings.
Buildings are responsible for 60 percent of Kansas City's carbon emissions - more than either the transportation or industrial sectors. This is true among most other U.S. cities as well. Much of the energy these buildings use, however, is wasted.
Fortunately, the City Energy Project has the technology and knows the best practices that can make these buildings vastly more efficient. Working together, these cities can make significant progress in reducing their contribution to climate change. And in the process, they can give their local economies a boost.
"City skylines have long been symbols of aspiration and innovation—this project takes that to a new level," said Laurie Kerr, director of the City Energy Project at the Natural Resources Defense Council. "These mayors are showing there is the political will to put people to work to build a healthier, more prosperous future for America's cities. In the face of a changing climate and increasingly extreme weather, these city leaders know they cannot wait for the state or federal government to make them more resilient and sustainable - they are taking action now."
"We have the skills and technology to make buildings more efficient, but we need a coordinated effort by major cities and the private sector to make it happen," said Cliff Majersik, executive director of the Institute for Market Transformation. "The City Energy Project will give city leaders and the real estate industry the support they need to make buildings better, improving the lives of millions of city residents."
Projected economic and environmental benefits
Boosting building efficiency reduces the pollution that is turbocharging weather across the country. It reduces demand for new power plants. It makes cities more resilient to energy-related crises. And it helps clean up the air our cities' children breathe by reducing other hazardous air pollution.
The City Energy Project is projected to cut about 590,000 tons of carbon emissions from buildings annually in Kansas City - an amount equal to the carbon footprint of 29,000 homes' energy use per year.
The 10 cities combined are estimated to be able to reduce carbon emissions by a total of 5 million to 7 million tons of carbon emissions annually. That is equivalent to taking 1 million to 1.5 million passenger vehicles off the road per year, the amount of electricity used by roughly 700,000 to nearly 1 million American homes annually, or taking three to four power plants offline.
It also has significant economic benefits. This includes creating jobs in a range of fields and skill levels to implement the efficiency measures - from electricians to architects, construction workers to engineers, and building technicians to software providers. It includes helping to raise property values, as efficient buildings are in great demand. And it includes lowering energy bills for residents and businesses, reducing the cost of living and doing business, and freeing up money that can flow back into the local economy.
The City Energy Project is projected to save Kansas City ratepayers as much as $55 million annually on their energy bills, and a total of nearly $1 billion annually across all 10 cities (at current prices).
"Burns & McDonnell is thrilled that Kansas City has been selected for the City Energy Project. The selection committee discovered something that we have known for a long time; Kansas City is a leader when it comes to energy efficiency and sustainability," said Burns & McDonnell Chairman and CEO Greg Graves. Burns & McDonnell is one of the first key stakeholders who has volunteered to work with the City on this project.
How it works
Through this new project, the cities will develop their own locally tailored plans to advance energy efficiency and reduce waste in their large buildings, which can represent roughly 50 percent of their citywide square footage. These plans, which will include multiple integrated strategies, can make more progress in each city than any one program or policy could alone.
The City Energy Project will offer their energy expertise to help guide the cities through the planning, designing and implementing processes. The energy efficiency solutions that the project will help the cities develop are flexible to each city's unique situation, supporting the following goals:
- Promote efficiency building operations: Strong building energy performance can be achieved through efficient operations and maintenance, and the training of facilities personnel.
- Encourage private investment: Common-sense solutions to financial and legal barriers to energy efficiency should be adopted to increase private investment in building energy improvements.
- City leadership: Cities should lead by example and reduce taxpayer-funded energy consumption in municipal buildings, and encourage the private sector to match their actions.
- Promote transparency: Building energy performance information should be transparent and accessible to enable market demand and competition for energy-efficient buildings.
For more information about the City Energy Project, please visit www.cityenergyproject.org.