Chicago Guide to Help Communities Plan Sustainable Energy Efficiency and Conservation

CNT recently helped to co-author a guide that will help cities and counties to develop a longterm and sustainable energy efficiency and conservation plan and maximize the opportunity for cost savings, environmental benefits, financial leverage and economic development. “Chicago’s Guide to Completing an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy”, was co-authored by the Chicago Department of the Environment, CNT Board Member Julia Parzen of Urban Sustainability Associates and CNT.

The guide introduces the energy efficiency and conservation strategy, gives a model outline, a process guide, execution options, and where to go for resources and help for communities receiving funding under “The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant” (EECBG) program, which was passed as part of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Within 120 days after receiving initial funding, eligible communities must submit a proposed Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy that describes the energy goals and proposed plan for the use of the EECBG grant.

Chicago’s Guide will help cities and counties to thoughtfully plan for long-term and sustainable energy efficiency and conservation and maximize the opportunity EECBG planning dollars represent. The requirement to develop a plan is also a great opportunity. A strong strategy can provide not only a roadmap for reducing energy use, but also for lowering government, business, and resident energy costs, and promoting economic development and job creation.

Chicago has undertaken this kind of planning and this Guide builds on the lessons of the Chicago experience. The very inclusive Chicago process took more than a year to complete, but the time dedicated to systematic assessment and broad engagement had a high payoff. Taking advantage of the work that Chicago did and the reports posted on Chicago’s climate action website is one way to expedite the energy efficiency and conservation planning process.

The report can be downloaded at CNT’s site or at Chicago’s Climate Action website.