Connecting state and local government leaders
A successful cross-sector project to reduce energy consumption in North Carolina’s largest city is laying the foundation for similar collaborations in other places.
This the first in a series of profiles on the 50 finalists for Route Fifty’s Navigator Awards program. The first 10 finalists were from the Government Allies and Cross-Sector Partners category. Finalists 11-20 were from the Agency and Department Leadership category. Finalists 21-30 were from the Executive Leadership category. Finalists 31-40 were from the Next Generation category. Finalists 41-50 were from the Data and IT Innovators category. Explore our complete list of 50 finalists .
It’s certainly nice when the White House describes a project you’ve helped lead as a “ pioneering ” model that other cities can emulate. But it’s even better when the White House takes that local model and promotes it as a way to bring cities together to figure out how they can adapt the approach for their specific challenges.
That’s what’s happened with Envision Charlotte , a cross-sector energy conservation project established in 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina’s central business district—known locally as Uptown. Envision Charlotte’s objective was fairly simple: Reduce energy consumption by 20 percent in 64 buildings with more than 10,000 square feet of commercial space by 2016.
But the local government in Charlotte couldn’t simply snap its fingers and make it so. It required a collaborative effort with commercial property owners to take steps to encourage practices that reduce energy consumption.
Some of those steps included installing “shadow” meters in buildings that monitor energy consumption, educating building occupants and facilities management about their energy use, and developing strategies to reduce their energy footprint. Energy-use data collected in kiosks that were strategically placed in lobbies for everyone to see. As Envision Charlotte notes : “It doesn’t have to cost a lot to make a quick impact. Simple changes in behavior and operating practices can lower costs.” It’s the foundation for building a smart city.
Leading Envision Charlotte is its executive director, Amy Aussieker , who described the model as a “ public-private-plus partnership ” in an interview with Route Fifty last year.
The organization’s board of directors includes city and county government members and corporate representatives, including Duke Energy and commercial real estate giant JLL, among others. It’s impressive that nearly every major commercial building in Charlotte’s Uptown, 61 out of 64 buildings, is part of the program.
Aussieker’s hard work and success in reducing energy consumption in Charlotte laid the foundation for Envision America , which aims to expand the cross-sector model to meet urban sustainability challenges nationwide by deploying technology and data analytics to improve air quality, energy use and waste management.
Aussieker and her team deserve recognition not only for their achievements in the Queen City, but also for establishing an innovative model that other cities can adapt and implement to meet their own local challenges.
Michael Grass is executive editor of Government Executive’s Route Fifty and is based in Seattle.