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Empire State Building: Monument to Energy Efficiency

by Don Knapp Apr 07, 2009

The Empire State Building inspires a whole new sense of awe, with yesterday's announcement of an energy retrofit that will reduce the building's energy use by 38 percent and save 105,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide over the next 15 years. Now the world's most famous office building may become the most famous showcase for the power of retrofits. The $500 million project will pay for itself through energy savings over time, and will demonstrate that even buildings constructed 80 years ago can achieve LEED Gold certification.

A retrofit this big reminds me of the bigger picture: That approximately 80 percent of New York City's greenhouse gas emissions are associated with buildings, and that much of the building stock is old and inefficient. With Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant funds now available, there is a golden opportunity in every city and town to retrofit buildings on a massive scale. We need to ride this elevator to the top floor.

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Local Action Roundup

by Don Knapp Apr 07, 2009

Akron, OH, Group Assesses City's Carbon Footprint

San Francisco's, CA, Tool Tracks Carbon Footprint by ZIP Code

New York, NY, Considers Landmark Environmental Code

Seattle, WA, to Provide Discounted Energy Audits

Sonoma, CA Hosts National Conversation on Climate Action as Part of Earth Day Celebration

Houston, TX, Clean Win on Air

Good Candidate for Solar Power? Los Angeles County, CA, Map Shows Hot Spots

Los Angeles, CA, Mayor Picks David Freeman as Environment Deputy

Austin, TX, Recognizing Earth Week With Lights Out Initiative

Hayward's, CA, Plan to Go "Green"

Sonoma County, CA, hosts workshop on energy loans

San Jose, CA, GreenWaste, SolarCity Complete 1,502 Solar Panel Installation

Missoula, MT to get $680,000 in energy efficiency funding

Marin County, CA, North Bay get $25 million federal boost for recycled water

Laguna Beach's, CA, Climate Protection Gets a Green Light

Park City, UT, Studies Carbon Footprint

RACE wants Ridgefield, CT, officials to be 'fiscally responsible innovators'

Duluth, MN, State Officials Urge Congress to Address Global Warming

Charlotte, NC, Region's energy leaders envision plenty of green

Beijing keeps Olympic restrictions on cars after air quality improves

Austin, TX, To Set Employee Bike Share Program in Motion

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Where Are the Green Jobs?

by Don Knapp Apr 07, 2009

Architect at Construction Site with Solar Panels

SolveClimate's Renee Cho takes an in-depth look at how green jobs are taking root across the United States, and how economic recovery program funding is going to boost the business of building retrofits in particular. Putting to work $100 billion in federal funds across energy efficiency, transit, smart grid and clean energy projects is expected to yield two million green jobs.

In related news: The Department of Labor is expected to announce its RFP for green jobs training projects--allocating $500 million in economic recovery funds--no later than June 26.

And finally: The wind industry now employs more people than the coal industry.

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Blowing Away Dirty Coal on the East Coast

by Don Knapp Apr 07, 2009

Wind Turbine Sunset

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced on Monday that offshore wind turbines along the East Coast have the potential to generate 1 million megawatts of power--or, in 20th century terms, the equivalent of 3,000 medium-sized coal-fired power plants.

The prospect of that much clean energy would transform the carbon footprints of local governments throughout ICLEI's Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Southeast regions, so many of whom rely primarily on coal for their electricity.

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Debating Free Mass Transit in Saint Louis

by Don Knapp Apr 06, 2009

Bus with motion blur

There's a great conversation going on over at Streetsblog New York around how to make mass transit free for riders, even at a time when budget shortfalls are creating major cutbacks in transit service nationwide. Sounds silly at first, but Sarah Goodman writes that only 20 percent of transit revenues come from fares. She cites a plan to replace those funds in Saint Louis, described by the Saint Louis Urban Workshop, a member of the Streetsblog Network. The argument is worth a read.

I know that some ICLEI member local governments have had success with limited fare-free transit--I'm thinking of City of Seattle's planned free passes for employees, and Roanoke, VA's free student passes during the summer--but has any local government or MTA seriously considered going full-time free for all buses?

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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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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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Al Gore Joins Boston Mayor Menino

by Don Knapp Apr 01, 2009

City of Boston made a big splash today with the announced creation of a 21-member Boston Climate Action Leadership Committee, and news that $6.5 million in Economic Recovery Act funds will launch Renew Boston, a public-private partnership that will boost energy efficiency and renewables for community members and businesses in Boston.

Former Vice President Al Gore joined Mayor Thomas M. Menino for the announcement, making it a very big deal. And yet, Boston already has a climate action plan, released in 2007, and has been a leader among green cities. What are they going to do differently with this Leadership Committee?

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Local Action Roundup

by Don Knapp Apr 01, 2009

Boston, Other Cities Debate Hybrid Taxis (The New York Times)

National Grid Rolls Out Plan for Smart Grid Pilot in Worcester, MA (Environmental Leader)

States and Local Government Web Sites Inform Residents on Use of Stimulus Funds (American City & County)

Louisville, KY, Seeks Stimulus Funds for Energy Efficiency Improvements (American City & County)

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Federal Help for Local Climate Adaptation?

by Don Knapp Apr 01, 2009

Evacuation Route Sign

Local governments may be getting some much-needed planning assistance to prepare for the unavoidable consequences of global warming. The draft climate and energy bill released on Tuesday includes what looks to be some very progressive measures on climate adaptation--bringing foresight and realism to the issue for the time from the federal government. ICLEI USA Executive Director Michelle Wyman's quote in today's The New York Times/ClimateWire article summed it up:

"This is the first bill with really specific adaptation initiatives. "They're now saying, 'This is what needs to be done.' It's making the science real. It's saying we now understand there are unavoidable impacts from a certain level of climatic change that is now taking place."


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