Mayors Agree to Improve Energy Efficiency by 10 Percent, Release Survey on Climate Protection

On June 26, the U.S. Conference of Mayors endorsed EPA's Energy Star Challenge as a key strategy in meeting the goals of the conference's Climate Protection Agreement. As part of the resolution, the organization will encourage its members to support and take the Energy Star Challenge, a national campaign to improve energy efficiency by 10 percent or more in commercial and industrial buildings across the United States.

"The U.S. Conference of Mayors is leading the way on climate protection for cities across the country with the help of Energy Star," said Bob Meyers, EPA's acting assistant administrator for Air and Radiation. "Energy efficiency is a win-win for cities looking to save energy and protect the environment."

The U.S. Conference of Mayors represents 1,139 U.S. cities with populations of 30,000 or more. These mayors are uniquely positioned to encourage energy efficiency goals and improvements for city-owned buildings and provide a model for local building owners to follow, agency officials said. EPA will help mayors from coast to coast reduce carbon emissions and decrease energy use with tools and resources to measure and track building energy use, make improvements to existing buildings and design new buildings for superior energy efficiency.

EPA estimates that if the energy efficiency of commercial and industrial buildings in the United States improved 10 percent, Americans would save $20 billion each year in utility bills for commercial and industrial buildings and reduce greenhouse gas emissions equal to those from about 30 million vehicles.

More than 100 organizations, including state governments, leading associations, cities and counties have taken the Energy Star Challenge. Businesses, organizations, and governments that are leaders in energy efficiency use about 30 percent less energy than their competitors.

On June 22, the Mayors Climate Protection Center unveiled a new survey finding that mayors are acting on many fronts to enhance climate protection, without significant support from their state and federal partners.

The survey, released during The U.S. Conference of Mayors' 75th anniversary meeting, indicates that cities throughout the country, regardless of size, have initiated a multitude of actions aimed at reducing carbon emissions. Surveying the 400 mayors who at that time had signed the U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, 134 of them provided data for this first-ever assessment of city climate protection efforts. Among the survey's key findings are:

  • More than four out of five of the survey cities now use renewable energy or are considering beginning by next year.
  • All but four of the survey cities (97 percent) are using more energy-efficient lighting technologies in public buildings, streetlights, parks, traffic signals and other applications, or expect to by next year.
  • Seventy-two percent of the responding mayors stated that their city fleets now run on alternative fuels and/or use hybrid-electric technology.
  • Nearly nine in 10 of the cities require or anticipate requiring in the next year that new city government buildings be more energy efficient and environmentally sustainable.
  • More than three out of four of the cities are undertaking efforts to encourage the private sector to construct buildings that are energy efficient and use sustainable building techniques.

"This survey clearly shows that mayors are acting decisively to curb global warming, helping fill the void left by federal inaction," said Trenton, N.J., Mayor Douglas H. Palmer, Conference president.

Conference Executive Director Tom Cochran added, "Mayors are leading the way by implementing successful strategies to change human behavior and help protect the planet. This survey demonstrates the high level of innovation and creativity that U.S. mayors are employing to create more sustainable communities. This is not a new phenomenon, since mayors are often at the forefront of positive change."

Additional key findings:

  • More than nine out of 10 cities consider efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to be part of their broader efforts to address public health concerns, such as improving air quality or encouraging active living.
  • In nearly three in four of the cities, mayors have reached out to other mayors, elected county officials or other leaders in the region to encourage them to sign on to the U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement and/or take action on climate protection.

For more information about taking the Energy Star Challenge, go to http://www.energystar.gov/challenge.

For more information on the U.S. Conference of Mayors, visit http://usmayors.org.

This article originally appeared in the 06/01/2007 issue of Environmental Protection.

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