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California Cities and Counties Get No-Cost Tool to Measure GHG Emissions

by Michael Schmitz, ICLEI California Director Apr 18, 2011

SEEC Community Inventory Tool screengrab

California’s path to a more sustainable future just got smoother today. ICLEI released a powerful, no-cost web-based tool that will allow hundreds of California cities and counties to measure their community’s greenhouse gas emissions. Conducting a GHG emissions inventory is an essential first step to addressing climate change, cutting energy costs and becoming more energy self-reliant, but tough economic times and budget cuts have made it very difficult for many local governments to take the next step forward in climate action planning—until now.

With this new no-cost tool and complementary guidance in hand, local communities across California will be able to accurately measure their community’s carbon footprint, set reduction targets and make real progress in their climate action goals and energy-saving strategies.

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Targeting Local Government Needs Through SEEC

ICLEI released the SEEC Community Inventory Tool as a proud partner in the Statewide Energy Efficiency Collaborative (SEEC), a new alliance to help California cities and counties reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save energy. SEEC is a collaboration between three statewide nonprofit organizations and California’s four investor-owned utilities (read more about SEEC below, or visit

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Innovative “Clean Energy Works” Model Brings Green Jobs and Energy Savings to Portland

by Adrienne DeAngelo Apr 11, 2011

Clean Energy Works Portland Construction














A contractor works on a Portland home
Photo credit: CEWP website                                                                                                   

The Achievement

In March 2011, Clean Energy Works Portland (CEWP) and Green For All completed  a 500-home energy efficiency pilot and is now leading the launch of a state-wide effort to upgrade 6,000 homes over the next three years. The program used $1.1 million of Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) formula funds to seed a revolving loan fund for home energy remodels. The loan fund leveraged additional public and private investment to spur nearly $7 million in private homeowner investment.

Background: In 2009, CEWP launched the first program of its kind in the nation to enable on-bill financing for home energy upgrades. Seeing further potential for the CEWP project to provide green industry jobs, the national organization Green For All led a local coalition to create and implement a “High Road Agreement” with CEWP to ensure that a qualified, diverse workforce was trained to participate in the upgrades.

To achieve the work quality and community workforce objectives laid out in the Agreement, Clean Energy Works’ program partners, including the City of Portland, Energy Trust of Oregon, Conservation Services Group, and the Stakeholder Committee, developed a combination of requirements, incentives, and supports for contractors.


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Participate in a Community Resilience System Pilot Program

by Adrienne DeAngelo Apr 11, 2011


ICLEI is a member of the steering committee involved in creating a new Community Resilience System that will provide local governments with practical and immediately useable resources and processes to assess, measure, improve and reward community resilience.

Over the last year, the Community and Regional Resilience Institute (CARRI) has sponsored a national, commission-like effort to develop a practical, web-based system that communities can use on their own. By the summer of 2011, CARRI would like to engage up to 10 communities as “pilot” communities to begin a development process to understand what parts of the system work well and what parts require change, amplification and revision.


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Message to the President: Energy Independence Requires Local Transportation Solutions

by Martin Chávez, ICLEI USA Executive Director Apr 11, 2011

Orange Traffic Light and Barricades

Caution: National energy independence cannot be achieved unless local governments
are empowered to implement smart transportation policies.

Guest blogger: Martin Chávez, ICLEI USA Executive Director:

Martin ChavezIn his March 30 speech on energy at Georgetown University, President Obama declared that “there are no quick fixes” with regard to the country’s energy policy, and noted that huge amounts of the nation’s wealth and petroleum consumption are directly tied to transportation.

While the President’s acknowledgment of this reality is a step in the right direction, any energy independence vision must include marshaling the power of local governments to address a fundamental issue: our unsustainable dependence on the auto-based economy.

Our cities and towns are a key component of addressing climate change, and this must be matched by serious and forward-thinking urban planning. It is encouraging to witness President Obama stress the importance of a reduction of reliance on fossil fuels, but an increased reliance on biofuels, domestic oil drilling and natural gas must also be coupled with better growth policies and empowerment of localities to build more energy independent communities.

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More Sustainability Progress for Southeast Local Governments

by Eli Yewdall, Southeast Regional Office Apr 11, 2011

Biodiesel Credit: Savannah Morning News

Ed Hoffman with SES Biofuels shows the process of converting waste vegetable oil to biodiesel.
Photo credit: Steve Bisson/Savannah Morning News

Our check-in calls with members continue to reveal exciting projects and progress. Take a look below for more stories of what your peers are doing. Also see the first installment of this series and read about how Delray Beach is doing more with less.

  • Sarasota, FL is completing and action plan for government operations, implementing an energy performance contract, and preparing to start a community sustainability plan.
  • Winston-Salem, NC is implementing a revolving energy fund, developing a process to integrate energy performance into budget reviews for all departments, and developing partnerships to install electric vehicle infrastructure around the city.
  • Broward County, FL expects to complete implementation of 10-15% of initiatives in its Climate Change Action Plan in the first year since adoption. Progress reports on government operations and community initiatives will be released later this year.
  • Tallahassee, FL reduced electricity consumption in government facilities by 2% in 2010 compared to 2009, despite an over 16% increase in heating and cooling degree days, and provided residents with 4,600 rebates for energy star rated appliances and 1,500 ceiling insulation grants.
  • Tybee Island, GA is near completion of retrofits to government facilities funded by an EECBG subgrant, and is collecting waste oil to produce biodiesel for city vehicles.
  • Cary, NC is nearing completion of the GHG inventory for government operations, and plans to develop a Strategic Energy Plan over the next year. The vehicle fleet and water and wastewater facilities will be areas of focus in the plan.


If you want to learn more about one of the projects listed above, you can contact the member directly through the peer networking search (ICLEI members only) or contact the Southeast Regional Office

We're always excited to hear about new things members are doing. If you have a new project starting or completed, give a call or email to your regional office


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Share Your Earth Day Plans

by Don Knapp Apr 10, 2011

Rainbow People Joining to Surround Globe

Share your Earth Day event details with ICLEI! We're writing a blog post on the most noteworthy and innovative local government events around the country. Get additional recognition for your event with help from ICLEI. Click the link to send us a flyer, website link, or brief description.

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NREL Report on Energy Plans in Denver and Austin

by Natasha Umer Apr 07, 2011

Denver and Austin Case Studies (NREL)

A new report released by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) outlines the best ways to implement an effective energy plan despite financial or political obstacles.

From NREL:

NREL analyst Dave Peterson, along with Ester Matthews of Austin Climate Protection Program and Michele Weingarden of Greenprint Denver, recently published the report "Local Energy Plans in Practice: Case Studies of Austin and Denver." This report examines the successes and difficulties that two large cities, Denver, Colorado, and Austin, Texas, have experienced in implementing their respective citywide energy plans.

The report considers factors that have assisted or hindered putting energy initiatives from each plan into practice, including political, financial, and logistical realities. The report also examines the goals and design of each plan and how throughout the implementation process the cities have altered expectations or the direction of energy initiatives included in the plans. This report provides state and local government policymakers and analysts with a more nuanced understanding of the successes and challenges distinct cities encounter in putting a citywide energy plan into practice.

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Local Action Roundup

by Natasha Umer Apr 06, 2011

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Walking the Walk: Sustainability Officers Living Out Loud, Part II

by Cyrus Bhedwar, Southeast Regional Director Apr 05, 2011

Mary Pat, Walking the Walk: Part II

Mary Pat Baldauf, Columbus, NC, Sustainability Facilitator

In case you haven’t heard, ICLEI USA is leading an effort to more rigorously define “local sustainability” through an initiative called the STAR Community Index. If you happen to download and browse the Sustainability Goals and Guiding Principles you’ll see how the STAR Community Index builds on the notion of the “three pillars” of sustainability – the environmental, the economic and the social. The 150+ experts who comprise the STAR Steering and Technical Advisory Committees have further broken these out into eight key areas including one that we as a sustainability community tend to overlook – Health and Safety.

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Climate Idol Challenge Links Duluth With Sister City

by George Knowles Mar 31, 2011

 Climate Idols Photos

Move over, American Idol, and make way for Climate Idols. This friendly competition pits four households in Duluth, MN, against Thunder Bay, Ontario -- two sister cities whose governments share an interest in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, conserving energy, and addressing climate change. Each city has chosen four households, or “idols,” to compete against each other in four sustainability categories, and in turn inspire the rest of their community members.

Like ICLEI’s Green Business Challenge, which encourages business leaders to adopt sustainable practices at the local level, the Climate Idols Challenge aims to show average households that sustainable living is easy and beneficial. Both Duluth and Thunder bay recognized a golden opportunity.

"Sister City programs are a terrific platform for friendly competition. To meet climate protection goals, cities need to creatively engage residents on conservation initiatives for energy, fuel, solid waste, and more," says Michael Davidson, Midwest Regional Director for ICLEI USA. "Hats off to Duluth for leveraging its Sister City relationship with Thunder Bay so that residents in both cities have a direct stake in the creation of more livable communities and a healthier region.”

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