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How Local Governments Benefit From Energy-Efficient Purchasing

by Don Knapp Apr 26, 2009

Globe Shopping Cart

Are you following energy-efficient purchasing practices to the fullest extent? If you need help setting up a local government procurement policy, check out ICLEI’s Energy-Efficiency Purchasing FAQ. A few highlights of why it makes sense:

  • ENERGY STAR products saved $16 billion on energy bills in 2007, and prevented 40 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
  • City of New York requires that all appliances, computers, light bulbs, and other energy-using devices purchased for city buildings meet ENERGY STAR standards. Through this measure, the City expects to reduce CO2 emissions by 100,000 tons by 2017.
  • Portland, OR, installed outdoor lights with an efficient reflector design at a sports stadium, reducing energy use by 40 percent and cutting maintenance costs by half. Park Services estimates the new lights will save the city $58,000 over the life of the system.
  • King County, WA, tracks the savings from its environmental purchasing program on an annual basis. In 2007, the program saved the County more than $875,000. The County’s energy-related procurement practices include lighting, office supplies, and computers.


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National Resources on Energy-Efficient Purchasing

by Don Knapp Apr 26, 2009

Lady Paper Searching

Don’t know where to start with creating an energy-efficient purchasing policy? The good news is that much of your policy language can be copied verbatim from national and regional sources. ICLEI’s Energy-Efficiency Purchasing FAQ spells out the details, and links to these national resources to help local governments:


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Local Action Roundup

by Don Knapp Apr 26, 2009

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Climate Goals Popping Up in More Comprehensive Plans

by Don Knapp Apr 26, 2009

Tompkins Plan

The fact that Tompkins County, NY, has committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050 is impressive enough. But to hear that the County amended its Comprehensive Plan to include this goal makes it even more significant.

More local governments are integrating climate action and energy goals into their comprehensive or general plans, rather than keeping them separated in a climate action plan or energy plan. A few local governments that have made this jump include Richmond, CA, Marin County, CA, Rochester, NY, and Keene, NH.

A comprehensive plan is typically a legally binding document that guides the long-term development of a local government. It’s the broad plan that all stakeholders read, so adding climate goals gives them greater visibility, and a mandate to reach them. It’s a way for local governments to show they take energy climate protection very seriously—and place it at the core of their planning efforts.

Tompkins County didn’t just cut and paste text from its Local Climate Action Plan into its Comprehensive Plan, which was first approved in 2004. Leslie Schill, the County’s Senior Planner, shares a bit about the experience.


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Creation Care in South Carolina

by Annie Strickler Apr 23, 2009

Child Holding Plant

Sumter, South Carolina, Mayor Joseph McElveen told a crowd of about 100 citizens on Wednesday night that he is convinced human actions are causing dangerous changes to the earth’s climate.  But, he said, even if you don’t believe that, there are many reasons to take actions to reduce energy and resource use. (Read more from the local paper)

One of those reasons is a bread and butter issue for many of the city’s residents.  Dave Davison of Eaton Corporation talked about the company’s sustainability efforts.  Their local Sumter assembly plant makes controls which can improve the efficiency of heating, lighting, and cooling systems, and they are expecting increased demand as a result of the energy provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  Any new jobs are very much needed, since the unemployment rate in Sumter county is 12%, and in a neighboring county 16%.

Another reason, according to keynote speaker, Dr. Matthew Sleeth, is the responsibility to care for God’s creation.  When he first brought up concern for the earth, Dr. Sleeth said, the pastor of his church called him a tree hugger.  He responded by finding one thousand mentions in the Bible of trees, their importance, and the need to protect them, as well as many other references to clean rivers, oceans, plants and animals. Dr. Sleeth called on citizens to undertake a program similar to ICLEI’s Five Milestones for Climate Mitigation, calculating their personal carbon footprint and taking steps to reduce it. 

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LA County Accelerating From Zero to 5 to 100

by Don Knapp Apr 23, 2009

Guest Blogger: Alison Culpen, ICLEI USA Program Associate, California Region

Freeway at night

“It’s not about going from zero to 100, it’s about going from zero to five.”
--Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles City Council President

Eric Garcetti's remarks, which he made at the LA County National Conversation on Climate Action on Earth Day, refer to the approach the region must take to transportation.

With over 27 speakers including four supervisors and the president of the CPUC, and with the help of over 40 staff volunteers (just glancing at the event agenda will make you dizzy), it certainly seemed like the National Conversation event was averaging 100 miles per hour.

And for good reason.

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In the Wake of Earth Day Conversation: Collaboration

by Annie Strickler Apr 23, 2009

Rainbow People Joining to Surround Globe

Guest Bloggers: Deann Cartwright, Conservation Outreach Coordinator for Greenburgh, NY, and Courtney Forrester, ICLEI USA Program Officer (Northeast)

The day after Earth Day can be a major buzz kill. The anticipation is gone, and sometimes with it the enthusiasm and dedication that are the pillars of success. But not in Greenburgh, New York.

More than 100 people – residents along with department heads, committee chairs, and officials from Greenburgh (along with Irvington, Tarrytown, Ardsley, Hastings, Elmsford and Dobbs Ferry and unincorporated areas of the town) came together on Earth Day for “Greening Greenburgh: Think Systematically, Act Collaboratively,” part of the National Conversation on Climate Action.

And they show no signs of slowing down.

Appropriately, the theme was town-wide collaboration – how to make Greenburgh a sustainable community overall. We heard from Westchester County Executive (and ICLEI USA Board member) Andrew Spano and Tria Case, Executive Director for the Center for Sustainable Energy, among others. All the members of the Greenburgh Climate Action Task Force presented implementation strategies for various parts of the Municipal Operations Climate Action Plan, including vehicles and transportation, waste, open space and building codes.

But it was in between speakers – out in hall, during Q&A sessions, and over cake (including a planet Earth cake by a local bakery) – that the real action and collaboration happened.

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Six More Cool Climate Communication Tips

by Don Knapp Apr 20, 2009

Ahead of Earth Day, you can’t get enough tips on making your event a success, right? We’re hooking you up with five more basics from ICLEI’s Outreach and Communications Guide:

  • Back up your arguments. Use scientific data and cite your sources. Use credible sources.
  • Pictures are worth a thousand words. For example, photos that show glaciers 60 years ago compared to their retreating state today are iconic. However, local images are the most powerful – familiar landscapes under threat, people taking action in their local community are all powerful images that will more likely resonate with your audience.
  • Make comparisons. Use analogies, such as “Thousands of the world's top scientists have reached a consensus that human activities are causing the climate to change - a level of agreement akin to the consensus that smoking causes lung cancer.” Use terms and scenarios that people recognize and understand.
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Five Tips to Compete for Energy and Climate Funding

by Don Knapp Apr 05, 2009

Street sign of opportunity

As local governments get to work on their June 25 applications to tap $3.2 billion in funding through the Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program, Andy Seth of Climate Communities offers five tips on how to compete successfully:

  1. Build programs instead of projects: Demonstrate that your community will develop sustainable energy/climate programs that will produce long-term results.
  2. Focus on green job creation: Don't forget that economic stimulus dollars should generate new jobs.
  3. Develop partnerships: Regional efforts will be very competitive for federal funding.
  4. Leverage your funds: Tap multiple sources of federal support for your energy/climate efforts.
  5. Join us in D.C.: Attend the May 18-20 Local Climate Leadership Summit, which will feature workshops to make you aware of the many federal resource opportunities available. Sessions at the Summit will cover the do’s and don'ts of EECBG funding, including the development of an effective energy efficiency and conservation strategy.
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Local Action Roundup

by Don Knapp Apr 05, 2009

Iowa City Official Finishing Greenhouse Gas Inventory (The Gazette)

Hingham, MA, completes inventories, has plans to cut back on energy consumption (Wicked Local)

Solar power energizes mayors at conference (American City & County)

Empire State Building to Become a Model of Energy Efficiency (GreenBiz)

Urban boundary: Figuring out where metro Portland growth will go (The Oregonian)

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