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Make Your Voice Heard to Improve Building Energy Codes

by Cyrus Bhedwar, ICLEI Southeast Regional Manager Oct 12, 2009

Household Meter-Readers


In 2008, ICLEI member local government representatives and others gathered in Minneapolis to voice their support for and vote in favor of the proposed “30% Solution” – an initiative to increase energy efficiency of the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) by 30 percent over the 2006 version. Despite more than 60 percent of members voting in favor of this suite of provisions, the updated code only improved energy efficiency by about 15 percent. Your next chance to influence the energy code is now! By further improving energy efficiency through building codes, we can slash U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and help lower energy costs for millions of people.

See You in Baltimore?

ICLEI members and all local governments can make their voices heard on important building energy efficiency issues by attending the ICC Energy Hearings in Baltimore, MD, beginning Oct. 26, 2009, to testify and support energy efficiency at the IECC and International Residential Code Energy (IRC) development committee hearings.

To be eligible to vote in Baltimore, you must join the International Code Council (ICC) today, Wednesday, Oct. 14. Your jurisdiction can join as a Governmental Member for $100, $180 or $280/year (depending on population) and send four, eight, or 12 voting representatives to the ICC hearings ( 

Learn more about participating in these forums by reading this fact sheet, or stay up to date on ICC energy code hearing developments at the EECC web site:

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Welcome to Oklahoma City, ICLEI's 600th U.S. Member!

by Allison Webster and Ryan Foshee Oct 12, 2009

Welcome Mat


Oklahoma City, OK, has joined ICLEI as our 600th local government member in the United States. We’re pleased to reach this membership milestone with the addition of such a key city, which is the largest in Oklahoma, as well as the state capital. It’s worth taking a moment to look at what Oklahoma City has already accomplished in its efforts to become more sustainable, and what it hopes to achieve, especially through membership in ICLEI.

Oklahoma City already has an impressive track record with climate and energy actions. For example, the City recently retrofitted its traffic signals with energy efficient LED’s and installed energy management control systems, ensuring that City heating and air conditioning units are operating efficiently. The City also converted a portion of its vehicle fleet to natural gas and formalized plans to acquire more hybrid and electric vehicles in the future.

But now the City is gearing up to take its efforts to the next level. It recently hired its first Sustainability Director, Autumn Radle, to coordinate its sustainability and energy initiatives, which will be boosted by the receipt of $5.4 million through the Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program. With Radle in place, the City joined ICLEI and is now in the process of formulating an energy efficiency and conservation strategy. That strategy will focus on the transportation and building sectors to cut back GHG emissions associated with energy consumption. By saving energy and fuel, the City will also save money and improve air quality.

In particular, Radle believes there are great opportunities for improving transportation within the community: “If someone wants to walk to work, bike to work, or take transit, it’s the City’s responsibility to help facilitate those choices – to make sure there’s sidewalks, to make sure there’s bike lanes, to make sure there’s bus or rail,” she explains.

Radle says Oklahoma City is excited to be part of the ICLEI Network. She’s looking forward to tapping into the wealth of knowledge that other ICLEI local government members can provide, and learning from the successes and challenges of other jurisdictions. “It’s really exciting to have a whole new world of research and case studies opened up as well as networking opportunities with other sustainability directors,” she adds.

Using ICLEI’s Clean Air and Climate Protection Software 2009 (CACP 2009) will provide a powerful tool for the City to quantify its current greenhouse gas emissions, and set a baseline target reduction goal. As part of the ICLEI Network, Oklahoma City now has access to tools that will enable it to track its success and share its sustainability story more accurately, not just to City staff and leadership, but to the community at large. To learn more about ongoing sustainability efforts in Oklahoma City, visit

By the way: Is your local government an ICLEI member? Find out here.

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Capital Corner: Latest Federal Updates

by Art von Lehe, ICLEI Policy Analyst Oct 12, 2009

Capital in Washington, D.C.

Capital Corner is ICLEI's regular update on federal climate and energy policy, viewed through the local government lens.

Local Governments Recognized by the Senate

The past couple of weeks have been very interesting for climate action.  The Senate released a draft bill which formally recognized local governments, in contrast to the House-passed bill from this summer. 

Click here for ICLEI’s initial impressions of the Senate draft climate bill and stay tuned for a more in-depth analysis.

Surprises from Norway to South Carolina

President Obama awoke last week to find out he had become a Nobel Laureate, in part for his commitment to combating climate change, as the press release from the Nobel Prize Committee stated: “Thanks to Obama's initiative, the USA is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting.”

Another surprise came from my home state of South Carolina. Senator Lindsey Graham wrote an op-ed in the New York Times with Senator John Kerry to promote a bipartisan approach to addressing climate change.

An excerpt from this potentially game changing piece: “This process requires honest give-and-take and genuine bipartisanship. In that spirit, we have come together to put forward proposals that address legitimate concerns among Democrats and Republicans and the other constituencies with stakes in this legislation. We’re looking for a new beginning, informed by the work of our colleagues and legislation that is already before Congress.”

All of these developments give us reason to hope for meaningful action at the national and international levels before we close out 2009.

  • Click here to read the complete press release from the Nobel Committee.
  • Senators Graham and Kerry’s full op-ed can be found here.
  • Read the Reuters article about the hope for climate progress


1,000 Mayors Can’t Be Wrong

On October 2, Mayor Greg Nickels announced that there are now 1,000 mayors who have pledged to reduce GHGs in line with the targets set out in the Kyoto Protocol.  This historic event reflects the tremendous upwelling of climate action which has moved from the bottom up – from the local level to the national and even international.  This chorus of US mayors has agreed to meet emissions targets that have been rejected by the federal government.  This historic number of 1,000 mayors was reached at an unprecedented time in history as domestic and international policy for climate action is being crafted at the very moment that United Nations Environment Program reported that we are coming closer and closer to crossing profoundly dangerous thresholds with regards to GHG emissions. 

Recently, Neil Pierce of wrote an opinion piece that showcases this bottom up momentum regarding the negotiations leading up to the next international climate – mentioning ICLEI’s role in advocating for increased support and recognition of local governments in the next international treaty.

  • For more information on the 1,000 mayors, read this article in the Seattle Times.
  • For more information on the current state of the climate, please see this UNEP report.
  • To read Neal Pierce’s piece, please click here.
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Event Recap: Creating Sustainable Global Cities

by Don Knapp Oct 07, 2009

New York Skyline

On October 6, the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program hosted an event and panel discussion focused on creating sustainable global cities. The program highlighted metropolitan models for managing climate change while restoring national economies and advancing opportunities for low-income populations.

To view a full transcript of the speakers, or listen to audio from the event, go here.

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Catching Up With a Sustainable Cleveland

by Brita Pagels, ICLEI Program Officer Oct 05, 2009

Cleveland Mayor JacksonCleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson

Cleveland has established itself as one of the Midwest's leaders in sustainability and climate action. Three recent developments prove the point.

In August, City of Cleveland hosted the innovative "Sustainable Cleveland 2019: Building an Economic Engine to Empower a Green City on a Blue Lake” conference, bringing together more than 600 individuals ranging from residents to CEOs, education institutions, foundations, and many more.Cleveland Office of Sustainability Logo

The purpose of the conference was to bring together people vested in Cleveland to create an action plan grounded in the principles of sustainability for building a green economy, protecting the environment, and creating opportunities for individuals to prosper. Sustainable Cleveland 2019 attracted a wide array of participants, including experts from the White House Council on Environmental Quality, IBM, and Continental Airlines. The Summit was conducted utilizing the innovative “appreciative inquiry” process to engage the broadest diversity of constituents possible. According to Mayor Frank Jackson, the City will host another Summit in 2010. (For more on the appreciative inquiry process and Cleveland, view our case study.)

As a related step in the sustainability planning process, ICLEI, with generous support from the Surdna Foundation, was able to help the city kick off the process of creating its climate action plan to reduce emissions across city government operations. This process will entail holding several internal climate action task force meetings, which will convene several times throughout the year with the intention of completing the plan by year's end.

In order to elevate the work that the City is doing in the area of sustainability, the former Sustainability Programs Manager, Andrew Watterson, was promoted to Chief of Sustainability.

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Mission, Accomplished: Big Steps for a Small City

by Brita Pagels, ICLEI Program Officer Oct 05, 2009

Thumbs Up Group

The City Council in Mission, KS, officially adopted the City’s climate action plan back in June 2009, but the story is still worth talking about now because of its ability to inspire. Mission is a small city -- population 9,736 -- that has accomplished big things in a short span of time. The City's work shows that jurisdictions of all sizes, not just the large ones with large budgets, can drive local climate action. That's got to be encouraging to the many smaller local governments that are joining the ICLEI Network each week.

Since joining ICLEI in 2007, Mission has checked off three major tasks as it works through ICLEI's Five Milestone process: It completed its greenhouse gas emissions inventory of city operations and the community as whole, set an emissions reduction target, and completed its climate action plan.

A few notable findings from its emissions inventory:

  • Government operations:
    • The building sector produced the largest percentage of emissions totaling 61 percent, followed by the streetlight and traffic signals sector totaling 25 percent
    • Employee air and car miles resulted in 26 percent of the City’s emissions.
  • Community as a whole:
    • The transportation sector was responsible for the largest percentage of emissions totaling 59 percent.
    • Limited-access highways produced significantly more emissions than local road and arterial roads, totaling 72 percent.

In its climate action plan, the City maintains the goal of reducing emissions resulting from its operations as well as emissions from the community by 20 percent by 2020. A few highlights of the plan's recommendations:

  • Incorporating green building standards into the building code
  • Creating a building retrofit program
  • Diversion of waste through yard waste composting
  • Certification of 50 businesses that “implement “green” business practices
  • Promoting the use of native plants
  • Providing incentives and education about transportation options
  • Promotion of Transit Oriented Development

You can view the City’s climate action plan here and its greenhouse gas emissions inventory here.

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Saint Louis County Fast Tracks Its Energy Efficiency Strategy

by Amy Malick, ICLEI Midwest Regional Director Oct 05, 2009

St. Louis County greenhouse gas inventory chart

Preliminary findings: 2008 greenhouse gas emissions by source
for St. Louis County. By reducing its energy use, especially in residential
and commercial buildings, the County can slash its emissions. Department
of Energy funding will be a key to this effort.


ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability is assisting St. Louis County, MO, to develop its Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy as part of its $8.4 million award from the U.S. Department of Energy. Like many local governments, St. Louis County is on a fast track to establish a long-term sustainability framework by which to guide its expenditures of Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) funds, and to create a path forward for the County’s future in six areas:

1.    Building management and energy conservation
2.    Transportation and mobility
3.    Land use, development and green building
4.    Economic Development
5.    Waste management and environmental conservation
6.    Administration and procurement

As part of this initiative, St. Louis County completed a series of regional coordination and public engagement activities on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 to ensure that its EECBG expenditures will be aligned with those of neighboring jurisdictions, and to create a community-wide dialogue about the region’s future through the St. Louis County Green and Growing Framework.

ICLEI presented preliminary findings for the emissions inventories for government operations and the community as a whole, and assisted the County in outlining a wide range of strategies for potential inclusion in the EECBG application and long-term sustainability framework. The County will submit St. Louis County Green and Growing Framework as part of its EECGB application at the end of November. ICLEI is delighted to engage deeply with the County and members of the ICLEI network in the St. Louis region as a part of this work.

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Our Quick Take on the Senate Draft Climate Bill

by Art von Lehe, ICLEI Policy Analyst Oct 04, 2009

Capital in Washington, D.C.

Last week marked the beginning of the Senate push toward comprehensive climate and energy legislation.

The draft Senate climate bill, known in D.C. lingo as Kerry-Boxer after its sponsors, or by its title “Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act,” (CEJAPA), is very much a rough draft, leaving plenty of room for moving the politically necessary pieces into place in order to gain the 60 votes needed in the Senate – a Herculean feat.

ICLEI will have a more comprehensive analysis of the Senate bill and how it compares to the provisions passed by the House soon. We were eager to dive into the bill and share our first impressions with you.


While the House-passed bill (ACES) and the Senate draft bill (CEJAPA) are relatively similar – the Senate draft bill has a slightly more ambitious target for economy-wide GHG reductions: ACES aims for 17 percent by 2020 and CEJAPA aims for 20 percent. This is important internationally as the higher the 2020 targets, the happier the developing world will be with the United States at the upcoming negotiations in Cophenhagen. ICLEI continues to engage in this process, through the Local Governments Climate Roadmap and the World Mayors and Local Governments Climate Protection Agreement.

Federal climate legislation is therefore important internationally as well as domestically.  The Senate began its process of creating the draft by starting with the House passed bill, therefore CEJAPA builds off of ACES, with notable differences in areas like funding for local governments.

ACES, (see ICLEI’s analysis of the bill) relies heavily on state governments to administer funding, in the form of allowances, to local governments.  This House version leaves the funding decisions up to states with a 12.5 percent mandatory minimum to be given to localities out of total state allowances for smart grid technology, building retrofits, energy efficient manufactured homes, building energy performance labeling, and renewable energy deployment.

By contrast, CEJAPA administers allowances directly to local governments for the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants program.  This Senate draft version would create a category of non-federal entities which includes state, local and Indian governments along with metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) and renewable energy generators.  While the bill does not yet define the exact portion of allowances to be distributed to this non-federal category of recipients, local governments could expect under the current version of CEJAPA to receive 25 percent of whatever amount is provided to this category while MPOs would receive 10 percent.

At first blush, other provisions of interest to local governments in CEJAPA (and some notes of comparison with ACES) include the following:


  • Building Codes – the EPA will set a national goal for improving codes
  • Retrofit program – similar to that found in ACES (REEP Program)
  • Watersense – a grant program for water efficiency that localities will be able to apply for
  • Offsets – the offsets program in CEJAPA is similar to the one found in ACES and will likely represent opportunities for local governments to develop GHG reduction programs that could result in offset credits.
  • Recycling Programs – based on GHG emissions, requires states to distribute minimum amounts of funding to localities
  • Smartway Transportation – grant opportunities to help truckers upgrade to more efficient and less polluting vehicles

Regulatory Considerations

  • Landfills – under ACES, it would be likely that landfills would be subject to EPA regulation under the new source performance standards for GHG emissions. This would likely preclude the ability for landfill GHG reduction projects to qualify for offset credit. However, under CEJAPA, new source performance standards for GHGs will not apply to offset projects until 2020 – meaning that landfill offset projects would be eligible for offset credit at least through 2020.
  • GHG Reporting Requirement – for entities outside of the cap emitting more than 10,000 tons CO2e, similar to ACES
  • State cap and trade programs – preempted for the years 2012 – 2017, similar to ACES
  • Taxi Cabs – amends the Clean Air Act to allow state and local governments to set fuel efficiency standards for taxi cabs

Adaptation Provisions

  • State Role – CEJAPA closely mirrors the adaptation provisions found in ACES – leaning heavily on the states
  • Water Resources – a portion of emissions allowances that are distributed for adaptation include state and local programs such as: grants for water systems, flood control and response, recycling programs, agriculture and, and air pollution and air quality.
  • EPA Drinking Water Program – the EPA would establish a program to assist drinking water utilities in adaptation to the effects of climate change

That’s a quick and dirty analysis of where things stand right now with the House having passed a bill, the Senate finally having its hands on a draft with which to work, and the eyes of the world watching. While the Senate gets to work hearing from myriad stakeholders – and gearing up for a currently scheduled mid-October markup in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee – we’ll be hard at work at ICLEI digging through the draft, tracking the changes and developments, and sharing our analysis with you as part of our effort to keep local governments engaged and informed at this crucial moment.

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Local Action Roundup

by Don Knapp Sep 30, 2009


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The Secret to Boost Recycling Rates? Cool Incentives

by Eli Yewdall, ICLEI Program Officer Sep 30, 2009

Blue Recycling Bin









Oak Ridge, TN, and North Miami, FL, have figured out how to boost their community recycling rates with a win-win idea. The cities have partnered with a private company called RecycleBank to offer incentives to residents based on many cans, bottles, and paper they put on the curb each month. So far, the results have been dramatic.

The program works by attaching an electronic identification tag to each household's recycling bin. The collection truck weighs the bin and reads the tag to assign the weight to the resident's account. The resident gets points for each pound of recycling collected and can redeem those points for coupons offered by local and national businesses. Participants are also able to view information online about the environmental benefits of their own recycling. Both communities began offering the new program in March of this year, and the data is now in showing an enthusiastic response from residents.

In North Miami, 298 tons of recyclables were collected in the first two months of the program, compared to only 60 tons in those same two months the previous year—an increase of 400 percent. If that rate continues, North Miami residents will divert an extra 1,426 tons of waste from the landfill annually. The city estimates that this will prevent 4,100 metric tons of CO2 equivalent emissions per year, and it will save the city more than $800,000 in tipping fees over the next five years. RecycleBank has an incentive to make sure these savings are achieved, since the contract sets their payment as a percentage of what the city saves.

In Oak Ridge, monthly curbside collection increased from 134 tons to 219 tons, while collection at the convenience center stayed roughly even at 38 tons after compared to 42 before. Overall, this equals 972 additional tons each year diverted from the landfill. The number of residents setting out recycling at least once a month increased from 37 percent to 83 percent. Oak Ridge has also tracked where participants are redeeming their points. In June, Oak Ridge residents traded in their points for 1,562 reward coupons, 36 percent of which were with local businesses.

Offering incentives to residents for recycling is clearly a great motivator, and can both reduce emissions and save local governments money on waste disposal. The results of these programs also show that smaller communities can create highly successful recycling programs; Oak Ridge has a population of about 27,000, while North Miami has just over 57,000 residents.

For more information on setting up recycling and waste reduction programs, see ICLEI's Recycling and Solid Waste Management Guide (members only).

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