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State and Local Climate and Energy Program

Case Studies

Learn how to lead by example in your community.

Many local governments are leading by example to address climate change and encourage clean energy activities in municipal facilities and operations. The following case studies provide diverse examples of local government actions and are organized by state.

AZ, CA, GA, IA, IL, MA, MD, MN, NC, PA, VA, WA, All States



City Population: 1,567,924

Energy Efficiency in Local Government Facilities and Operations

Initiated during the oil shortage of the late 1970s, the Phoenix Energy Conservation Program has been tied into a broader Sustainability Program that includes activities in environmental leadership, land use, recycling, transportation, water conservation, and historic preservation in addition to energy efficiency. The Energy Conservation Program has saved the city approximately $75 million in energy costs from 1978 to 2006.

The city Energy Conservation Program has evolved over the past two decades. Today, the program includes the following features:

  • Energy Efficiency Retrofits for HVAC and Lighting Systems.
  • Building Standards for Municipal Facilities – All new city buildings must be constructed to meet LEED certification, and buildings must be designed to improve energy performance by 30 percent compared to conventional buildings.
  • Energy Management Task Force – The Energy Management Task Force, comprised of representatives from each municipal department, is responsible for identifying reasonable ways to reduce energy needs in city buildings.
  • Energy Conservation Savings Reinvestment Fund – Half of all savings from energy conservation upgrades in local government facilities and operations are returned to this fund to be reinvested in additional upgrades.

http://phoenix.gov/sustainability Exit EPA disclaimer

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San Francisco

City Population: 808,976

Energy-Efficient Product Procurement

The San Francisco Green Purchasing Program assists local agencies in implementing the city's procurement policies. The program developed out of San Francisco's Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Pilot Program (EP3) and a city ordinance requiring agencies to purchase only products from the city's list of environmentally preferable products (EPPs). The program has extended its scope to include outreach to assist local businesses and residents.

The Green Purchasing Program is administered by SF Environment, the city agency responsible for coordinating the implementation of its environmental programs. The Green Purchasing Program includes the following features:

  • Product testing - Throughout the pilot program, city staff tested the products they purchased.
  • List of approved products - Unless exempted by a waiver, agencies must purchase products from a predetermined list of approved products, ensuring consistent program performance and reducing the time that purchasers would otherwise expend researching product information.
  • Evaluation of listed products - SF Environment has developed a score sheet to assist purchasers in evaluating the relative energy and environmental attributes of different products on the approved product list.
  • Stakeholder involvement - The EP3 Pilot Program solicited input from a Working Group of city employees from 10 agencies and a Technical Advisory Group of representatives from EPA Region 9 and other states.
  • Public involvement - SF Environment encouraged community members to participate in its priority product list development process and developed a subsidiary Green Purchasing Program exclusively for residents.

http://www.sfenvironment.org/our_programs/topics.html?ssi=9&ti=22#Public%20Awareness Exit EPA disclaimer

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DeKalb County

County Population: 739,956

Landfill Methane Utilization

The DeKalb County Sanitation Division is capturing landfill gas (LFG) from the Seminole Landfill to generate electricity and address environmental challenges. Initiated in 2006 at the request of County commissioners, this self-developed project became one of the first suppliers of green power for the local utility's new green energy program. The project produces approximately 22.5 million kilowatt-hours, enough to power 2,000 homes annually. The program is expected to achieve annual emissions reductions of approximately 15,900 metric tons of CO2 equivalent, equivalent to removing the emissions of 2,900 vehicles or avoiding the use of 36,900 barrels of oil.

The project, developed with seamless interface with the existing flare system and wellfield infrastructure, uses two reciprocating engines with a combined capacity of 3.2 MW to produce electricity from a stream of captured LFG that reaches approximately 1,600 scfm. This stream of LFG is produced by approximately 8 million tons of MSW that have been collected since 1977. Features of the program include the following:

  • Local utility contract - The local utility purchases green power produced from the project, and the resulting revenue will enable the county to recover the cost of $5 million for the system in less than five years.
  • Education - The showcase energy facility emphasizes education and offers tours about LFG utilization where visitors can view real-time performance of the electricity generators and see a full circle mural that follows trash from its collection to providing electricity to residents and businesses.


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City Population: 2,853,114

Combined Heat and Power (CHP)

Chicago's 2001 Energy Plan established a goal of using combined heat and power (CHP) systems to generate 1.5 billion kWh of electricity annually by 2010. The city is implementing activities to increase the amount of CHP-generated electricity used in local government facilities and to identify opportunities to encourage CHP technology deployment in the private sector through incentives. Between 2000 and 2005, the city assisted in installing a total of more than 54 MW of CHP capacity at eight sites, including three educational facilities, several private businesses, the local VA hospital and two other medical facilities.

Program features include the following:

  • Outreach to hospitals – The city has worked with local hospitals and healthcare associations to educate decision makers at local hospitals and to provide technical assistance in evaluating CHP potential.
  • Technical assistance for private and public facilities – The city has conducted feasibility studies for private businesses and public entities to evaluate the potential for CHP systems.
  • Case study development – Chicago has worked with the Midwest CHP Application Center to develop case studies of successful CHP projects throughout the city.
  • Workshops and seminars – The city has been helping to coordinate CHP workshops and seminars for local businesses and organizations.
  • Interconnection standards – The city has worked with the Illinois Commerce Commission to establish statewide interconnection standards that will enable facilities with CHP systems to connect to the electricity grid, thereby creating the opportunity to earn revenues for excess power generated.

http://www.chicagoclimateaction.org/pages/renewable_energy_sources/13.php Exit EPA disclaimer

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City Population: 9,298

On-site Renewable Energy Generation

Waverly Light and Power, a municipal electric utility owned by the city of Waverly, Iowa, was the first municipal utility in the country to generate its own wind power. Waverly Light and Power is obtaining 5 percent of its electricity from renewable sources, and the utility will produce nearly 6 million kWh of wind power annually beginning in 2008. This effort has resulted in CO2 emission reductions as high as 7,000 tons in one year, and the sale of energy tags earns the utility approximately $40,000 annually, money that is earmarked for investment in new renewable energy sources. The utility has set a goal of meeting 20 percent of its energy needs with renewable energy it generates by 2020.

Waverly Light and Power purchased its first wind turbine (80 kW) in 1993, and added two additional 750 kW turbines in 1999. In 2002, the utility replaced the first turbine with a 900 kW turbine, and in 2005 it sold its two 750 kW turbines to finance purchase of additional land on which new, state-of-the-art turbines could be built. Two new 900 kW turbines were purchased in 2007. Other aspects of the program include the following:

  • Financing - The cost of the turbines has been financed in part by grants and in part from the utility's capital budget. The first 900 kW turbine cost just over $1 million installed. Maintenance costs typically reach approximately $1,500 per year per turbine.
  • Green Choice program - The utility offers its customers the opportunity to purchase some of this green power through its Green Choice program.
  • Iowa Energy Tags program - In 2007, Waverly Light and Power became the first U.S. utility to offer renewable energy certificates (RECs). Under its Iowa Energy Tags Program, the utility sells the environmental attributes of the green power it produces to help pay for future investments in wind energy.

http://wlp.waverlyia.com/renewable_energy.asp Exit EPA disclaimer

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Montgomery County, Maryland

County Population: 950,680

Green Power Procurement

Montgomery County partners with multiple jurisdictions to aggregate electricity purchases to obtain reduced rates. Moreover, since a 2003 resolution to require all county departments to obtain 5 percent of their electricity from green power, the county has included green power in its aggregated purchases. Montgomery County currently purchases enough wind power to supply approximately 7 percent of the county government's electricity and has set a goal of increasing this percentage to 20 percent by 2011. A 2006 extension of the aggregated purchase agreement is expected to save nearly $25 million in procurement costs over three years for the 18 jurisdictions in the pool. These procurement savings will be used to offset the cost of increasing the buying group's percentage purchase of wind power from 5 percent to 10 percent.

Program features include the following:

  • Aggregated demand – Aggregating the demand of multiple electricity customers can help leverage purchasing power to obtain reduced electricity rates. Montgomery County currently aggregates purchases with 17 other public jurisdictions.
  • Green-e certification – The wind power is third-party certified.
  • Multi-year contract – The purchasing group agreed to a two-year fixed-rate contract in 2004, and in 2006 renewed it for an additional three years.
  • “Energy-Wise Offices” – The “Energy-Wise Offices” program, created in 2003, encourages county employees to implement energy conservation.
  • Financial incentives for businesses and residents – The county's Clean Energy Rewards program offers rebates to businesses and residents that purchase green power or install photovoltaic solar power generation systems at their homes and buildings. The county estimates that its community incentives reduce the cost premium of purchasing green power by approximately 40 percent.
  • Public awareness – The Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection website provides information resources and about purchasing green power, including comparisons among the green power provider options available to the county's electricity customers. The Department has also developed a Clean Energy Rewards electronic newsletter that it delivers to program subscribers.

http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/dectmpl.asp?url=/Content/dep/energy/energyL2.asp Exit EPA disclaimer

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City Population: 609,023

Energy Efficiency in Affordable Housing | On-site Renewable Energy Generation

Energy Efficiency in Affordable Housing

The Boston Green Affordable Housing Program was created by the city's mayor in 2007. The purpose of this program is to work within the community to develop affordable housing that incorporates energy efficiency features that reduce costs for renters and homeowners, promotes the well-being of residents, and minimizes impacts to the environment.

The Boston Green Affordable Housing Program includes a number of energy efficiency and green features, including:

  • Energy-efficient and green design Standards – In 2008, the Department of Neighborhood Development issued design standards for affordable housing. These standards integrate the requirements of the ENERGY STAR New Homes program and the LEED Silver rating system.
  • Training sessions – Through the Green Affordable Housing Program, the city provides training sessions for local developers focused on integrated design, energy efficiency and renewable energy opportunities, and indoor air quality.

http://www.cityofboston.gov/dnd/D_Green_Housing.asp Exit EPA disclaimer

On–site Renewable Energy Generation

Boston has installed wind and PV energy systems at a broad range of facilities, including government buildings, public schools, and affordable housing units, and has worked with the private sector to encourage renewable energy generation at a number of businesses and residences. By the end of 2008, the city expects to have a combined total of 1 MW solar PV capacity installed. Recent solar PV mapping efforts reveal that the city could meet 14 percent to 19 percent of its electricity supply using PV systems.

Program Features:

  • Green power purchases – 11 percent of the electricity the city purchases comes from green power sources, in addition to the on-site renewable projects the city is pursuing. By executive order, this percentage will increase to 15 percent by 2012.
  • DOE Solar City – Boston participates in the Department of Energy's Solar Cities Partnership, an initiative to establish model local governments that help improve solar infrastructure and facilitate mainstream adoption of solar technologies.
  • Solar Mapping – Boston has used GIS technology to evaluate and map the potential for PV systems throughout the city. A similar effort is underway to evaluate the potential for solar water heating applications.
  • Boston Energy Alliance –This nonprofit corporation, which facilitates the city's energy efficiency and renewable energy activities, will use a $300 to $500 million revolving loan fund to finance energy efficiency improvements and renewable energy generation systems at city facilities.
  • Solar Workshop – In January 2008, the city hosted a workshop to present its goals for the future of solar in the city and to invite stakeholders to participate.
  • Wind Power – The city is working with the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MTC) to assess the feasibility of installing wind turbines on Long Island in the city's harbor. The city is also supporting an initiative by the Community Wind Collaborative to install small wind turbines throughout the city using $4 million in funds from the MTC Renewable Energy Trust. In addition, the city plans to install a 1.8 kW turbine at the city hall and is in the process of developing a Wind Energy Zoning provision that would streamline siting of wind turbines in the city.

http://www.cityofboston.gov/climate/solar.asp Exit EPA disclaimer

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St. Paul

City Population: 279,590

Combined Heat and Power (CHP)

Since 2003, the city of St. Paul has been working with District Energy to provide biomass fuel for a CHP system installed at one of the company's facilities. District Energy is a private, non-profit, community based firm in St. Paul that was incorporated to provide district heating and cooling to commercial and residential customers, including the local government. Use of district energy technology and renewable sources of fuel have enabled District Energy to offer stable rates that are less susceptible to fluctuations in fossil fuel prices. In addition, using a biomass fuel source has reduced the district energy system's GHG emissions by more than 280,000 tons annually.

Program features include the following:

  • Renewable fuel source - The CHP system is fueled by wood waste biomass, which reduces District Energy's reliance on coal by 80 percent. The community benefits economically from the fact that the fuel is obtained from local sources.
  • Contract with the city - The wood waste that is used to fuel the CHP system is purchased from the city, which operates a wood recycling center. The city converts approximately 300,000 tons of wood waste into biomass fuel for the CHP system each year.
  • Enhanced efficiency - By capturing waste heat, the CHP system achieves an overall efficiency that is nearly double the efficiency of obtaining heat and power separately.

http://www.stpaul.gov/index.asp?NID = 501 Exit EPA disclaimer

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North Carolina

Yancey and Mitchell Counties

Yancey County Population: 18,503
Mitchell County Population: 15,784

Landfill Methane Utilization

A landfill gas (LFG) collection system developed at the Yancey-Mitchell Landfill led to the creation of a task force to evaluate opportunities to use the captured LFG. The EnergyXchange is a community-based organization in North Carolina that is currently utilizing LFG to provide energy to on-site glass blowing furnaces, a pottery kiln, and greenhouses dedicated to preserving rare and native flora. The project is unique because it utilizes LFG from a landfill much smaller than what is typically considered to be commercially viable. The savings to the artisans thus far exceeds $1 million compared to what they would have paid for traditional fuel sources. The project's environmental benefits include annual GHG reductions of 4,400 metric tons of CO2 equivalent. The success of this project has led to the development of a second project at the Avery County Landfill.

The EnergyXchange complex is located adjacent to a six-acre landfill and draws on the energy of a 37.5 scfm LFG flow. Program features include the following:

  • Education - In the visitor's center, citizens learn how LFG projects save money and help the environment.
  • Collaboration - Community partners include the Blue Ridge Resource Conservation & Development Council, Natural Power, and the North Carolina Department of Environment & Natural Resources.


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City Population: 1,447,395

Energy Efficiency in Affordable Housing

The Philadelphia Housing Authority's Conserve Energy-Preserve Public Housing program is focused on using energy efficiency to reduce the housing authority's operating costs for its affordable housing portfolio of 16,000 units. PHA completely or partially subsidizes the energy consumption of approximately 80,000 residents. The Housing Authority currently has more than 1,500 units planned for completion over the next six years, with expected annual energy cost savings of $800,000. The PHA received the 2007 ENERGY STAR for Excellence in Affordable Housing.

The Philadelphia Housing Authority established a goal of reducing energy consumption in its units by 3 percent to 5 percent. To achieve this goal, the housing authority has begun to implement a number of measures, including the following:

  • Installing energy-efficient equipment - PHA has installed over 1,000 water-efficient toilets in its affordable housing units. Through 2006, the PHA had installed over 4,000 CFLs in common areas at 20 of its affordable housing developments and plans to replace every light bulb in each of its units with CFLs.
  • Conducting energy education classes for housing residents and staff - The Housing Authority developed a resident education plan focused on energy reduction. Partnering with PECO Energy and the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, the housing authority has conducted seminars for residents on the use of programmable thermostats at two of its developments. Additionally, PECO has trained housing authority staff in energy conservation practices and in monitoring energy consumption to track savings.
  • Building ENERGY STAR-qualified affordable housing units - By working with a non-profit organization and ENERGY STAR, the housing authority completed 60 new homes in February 2007 that are ENERGY STAR-qualified. With an $118,000 grant, the Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority is providing funding for an additional 160-home affordable housing development, of which 125 units are planned to be ENERGY STAR-qualified.

http://www.PHA.phila.gov/ Exit EPA disclaimer

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Arlington County

County Population: 209,969

Energy Efficiency in Local Government Facilities and Operations

Arlington County's Fresh AIRE (Arlington Initiative to Reduce Emissions) Program seeks to reduce GHG emissions in county buildings and operations by 10 percent from 2000 to 2012. The Fresh AIRE Program also has committed to halt growth in community-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 2010 and pursue aggressive reductions thereafter. From 2000 to 2005, Arlington County reduced its GHG emissions 2.6 percent, in part, by reducing its energy use per square foot in county buildings and facilities by 6 percent over the same period. The first series of Building Energy Report Cards revealed that Arlington's efficiency efforts reduced energy consumption by more than 900,000 kWh of electricity and more than 15,000 therms of natural gas, saving the county approximately $100,000.

Program features include the following:

  • Five-year payback – All of the county's improvements to date have payback periods of no more than five years, providing a 20 percent return on investment each year, with expected savings every year after.
  • ENERGY STAR – The county partners with ENERGY STAR and is using Portfolio Manager to benchmark and assess the energy performance of its buildings.
  • Public disclosure – The county is publicly disclosing information on the energy usage and cost of county facilities and operations in Building Energy Report Cards for all 67 of its buildings.
  • Engaging the community – The county has assisted local businesses and residents in improving energy efficiency by offering free energy audits, providing information on ENERGY STAR tools and resources, helping to identify alternative and fuel-efficient transportation options, and encouraging recycling and water conservation practices.

http://www.arlingtonva.us/portals/Topics/Climate.aspx Exit EPA disclaimer

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Bellingham Green Power Procurement | King County Energy-Efficient Product Procurement


City Population: 78,905

Green Power Procurement

Bellingham, Washington has become one of the nation's leading communities in green power procurement. The city government has committed to meeting 100 percent of its electricity demand with green power and works with local businesses and residents to increase community green power purchases. The Bellingham community is purchasing a total of 76 million kWh of green power annually, greater than 11 percent of total community electricity use, and participation reached a total of nearly 2,000 households and more than 100 businesses. The city government's purchase of 100 percent green power (accounting for 25 million kWh) has reduced city government CO2 emissions by 13,000 tons annually (approximately 65 percent). These achievements earned Bellingham a 2007 EPA Green Power Leadership award.

Bellingham's green power procurement program includes the following features:

  • ICLEI Cities for Climate Protection – As a participant in the ICLEI Cities for Climate Protection program, the city developed an inventory of its GHG emissions and drafted a climate action plan featuring green power purchasing.
  • City council resolution – Under City Council Resolution 2006-28, the Bellingham city government endorsed the Bellingham Green Power Community Challenge, authorized the mayor to enter the city as a participant in the EPA Green Power Partnership, and committed the city government to purchasing RECs equal to 100 percent of its electricity consumption
  • Greenhouse gas reduction targets – The Bellingham City Council passed a resolution in 2007 committing to reduce GHG emissions resulting from government operations by 64 percent below 2000 levels by 2012 and 70 percent by 2020. The city has also established a community-wide goal to reduce emissions resulting from all community activities by 7 percent below 2000 levels by 2012 and by 28 percent by 2020.
  • Green Power Community Challenge – Bellingham partnered with a non-profit organization to encourage local businesses to participate in the Bellingham Green Power Community Challenge. The city awarded $1,000 for neighborhood improvement projects to the neighborhood that achieved the highest percentage of households participating in the challenge.
  • EPA Green Power Community – Bellingham has been recognized as a Green Power Community by the EPA Green Power Partnership.
  • Utility partnership – As a reward for the city's successful facilitation of the Green Power Community Challenge, the utility offered to pay for the installation of a 2.4 kW photovoltaic system on a local public facility and announced that it would contribute $20,000 for a future renewable energy generation project. The significant amount of green power purchases from the community has enabled the utility to purchase green power in bulk at reduced rates, lowering the consumer price premium for green power by about 40 percent.

http://www.cob.org/services/environment/green-resolutions.aspx Exit EPA disclaimer

King County

County Population: 1,875,519

Energy-Efficient Product Procurement

Since its inception in 1989 as an initiative to promote recycled materials, the King County Environmental Purchasing Program has developed into a comprehensive purchasing program that incorporates a broad range of energy and environmental goals. In 2006, purchasing EPPs saved King County $640,000 compared to purchasing conventional products. Since its inception, the program has earned recognition in the form of awards from EPA and the National Association of Counties.

The King County Environmental Purchasing Program is administered by the Procurement and Contract Services Section of the Finance and Business Operations Division, which is responsible for communicating policy requirements and information about price, performance, and benefits of products to purchasers. Features of the program include the following:

  • Model EPP policy – The program includes a model environmentally preferable product (EPP) purchasing policy for use by its constituent cities and businesses and for other counties.
  • Strategies for maintaining agency support – King County conducts educational seminars to train its purchasers to implement the EPP policy and distributes an Environmental Purchasing Bulletin to government agencies.
  • Integrated energy and environmental goal – The program includes not only includes specifications for energy-efficient office equipment, but also for a broad range of other EPPs, including biodiesel and hybrid vehicles.
  • Public involvement – The program promotes the benefits of EPPs throughout the community through training conferences and trade shows that involve sharing experiences with state and local government personnel. The program has also conducted training sessions for local businesses.
  • Annual reporting – The Procurement and Contract Services Section is responsible for developing an annual report describing program accomplishments and identifying future opportunities for improvement.

http://www.kingcounty.gov/operations/procurement/Services/Environmental_Purchasing/Policies.aspx Exit EPA disclaimer

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