What does Local Government action on energy efficiency look like?

  • Develop an energy efficiency, sustainability, or climate action plan: A plan is a power tool to transparently set goals, get the many stakeholders of energy projects on the same page, optimize project selection, and check baselines to ensure you can measure project success. Follow the strategic planning or climate action plan links for more resources covering planning, and for examples of climate action plans drafted and adopted by other California local governments. SEEC also provides trainings on use of the no-cost ClearPath tool for development of a strong climate action plan.
  • “Lead by example” and make EE improvements to the City: Implement energy efficient improvements in your own buildings. Improvements may include capital equipment upgrades (to lighting fixtures, boilers, air conditioning units, fan or pump motors, wastewater or other industrial facility energy-consuming equipment), or retro-commissioning of how that equipment works (e.g., checking the setpoint temperatures, scheduling, and staging of equipment, ensuring controls are working properly, testing and balancing, etc.).

EE improvements may be integrated into existing capital planning – EE improvements may also paired with clean energy installs or a campaign to reduce vehicle miles traveled (VMT) by implementing an employee carpool program.

If you’re looking for data on the most cost-effective project to start with, it may be a good idea to benchmark your buildings first and learn what buildings are using what amounts of energy. For more information on benchmarking, visit the Benchmarking Resources page. Looking for benefits of benchmarking? Check out this post.

Some local governments may prefer to start leading by example by implementing a program to encourage energy-efficient employee behavior (e.g., encouraging turning off the lights, using energy efficient computer setting, or low hot water usage). For best practices in implementing successful behavioral programs, see this post.

  • Educate, promote and support EE improvements in the community: Local governments are a critical source of information and organization for their communities. Local governments can support residential, commercial, industrial, and/or agricultural energy efficiency by promoting programs offered by the state, utilities and others, or by offering programs themselves. Programs may include community challenges and campaigns motivating behavioral changes, residential or small business assessments, direct installs, or incentives for energy efficient lighting or HVAC, green business programs, and more.
  • Set ordinances or local codes that raise the bar on EE in the city and community: California’s energy code (aka California’s Building Energy Efficiency Standards, or Title 24, Part 6) spurs energy efficiency by requiring energy efficiency construction. Your jurisdiction can raise that bar even higher by adopting a Tier 1 or Tier 2 “reach” code to set energy efficiency requirements 15 or 30 percent higher than the energy code. Or, rather than taking a percent-above approach, you can hone in on measures or specific installs that may clarify the requirements and help you meet goals in your climate or energy action plan (for example, requiring solar photovoltaics, or cool roofs). For more on this see reach codes.
  • Support and increase EE code compliance: The energy code is a major driver of energy savings – but your community won’t see the benefits if it’s not enforced. Make sure your building department staff know the current energy code, and consider what your jurisdiction can do to encourage compliance from the building community – including technical assistance and energy efficient recommendations during plan review (either by city staff or by a volunteer buildings or energy community committee), online permitting, permitting expediting or fee reductions, and/or connection to energy efficiency incentives.

ll of these types of activities are actions promoted under the CPUC’s California Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan.

For numerous examples of what actions local governments are taking, check out Local Government on the EE Strategic Plan.