10 U.S. mayors unite to address climate change

Wisconsin Gazette

Mayors from 10 major cities this week unveiled a united effort to boost energy efficiency in buildings to cut as much climate change pollution as generated by 1 million to 1.5 million passenger vehicles every year and lower energy bills by nearly $1 billion annually.

The cities participating in the City Energy Project are Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Orlando, Philadelphia and Salt Lake City.

The project is an initiative from the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Institute for Market Transformation and gets inspiration from New York City’s sustainability efforts, as well as funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies, along with the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Kresge Foundation.

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, in a news release, said, “New York City’s sustainability efforts are a major reason our greenhouse gas emissions are down 19 percent since 2007 and our air is cleaner than it has been in more than 50 years. They have also substantially driven down energy costs for consumers. “The City Energy Project will bring the significant economic and environmental benefits that energy efficiency has to offer to other cities — and accelerate progress by helping them learn from each other’s successes.”

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel called the project a promising opportunity. He said, “More energy efficiency means new jobs and continued economic growth, and a more sustainable City, which will lead to a further increase in the quality of life for the people of Chicago.”

Largely due to their electricity consumption, buildings are the largest single source of U.S. carbon emissions, representing 40 percent nationwide — more than either the transportation or industrial sectors. That number is even more dramatic at the city level, with more than half of carbon emissions in most U.S. cities coming from buildings — and in some cities as much as 75 percent. Much of the energy these buildings use, however, is wasted.

But there is technology and there are best practices that can make buildings vastly more efficient.

“City skylines have long been symbols of aspiration and innovation — this project takes that to a new level,” said Laurie Kerr, director of the project for the NRDC. “These mayors are showing there is the political will to put people to work to build a healthier, more prosperous future for America’s cities. In the face of a changing climate and increasingly extreme weather, they know they must act now to make their cities more resilient and sustainable.”

The project is projected to save ratepayers a combined total of nearly $1 billion annually on energy bills (at current prices).