Cities Take the Lead and Set Net Zero Energy Goals
The climate reports published by the United Nations over the past few years have sparked a grassroots effort to combat climate change by reducing Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. Major cities around the world have also pledged to address climate change by joining C40 Cities, a network of megacities committed to delivering the most ambitious goals of the Paris Agreement at the local level. Some cities have even declared to eventually be Net Zero Carbon. Cities are identifying the largest emissions producers and creating legislation that requires reduction in impactful ways. One of the cities leading the way is Washington D.C., where building code will require buildings to be designed to achieve zero-net-energy by 2030.
Often more agile than state or federal governments, cities have an easier time incorporating targeted requirements into building codes. Setting their own goals and action items allows each city to focus on its own social, economic, and geographic challenges. These initiatives often prioritize:
Energy Production – Collaborating with utility companies to invest in renewable energy production, coupled with incentivizing individual renewable energy production, has resulted in a growing renewable energy infrastructure. Local jurisdictions are even creating “green banks” to fund renewable energy infrastructure projects in their local communities.
Buildings – With the built environment responsible for 36 percent of global final energy consumption and nearly 40 percent of total direct and indirect CO2 emissions, implementing high-performance building requirements through building codes allows cities to hold the biggest energy consumers accountable. Benchmarking requirements using ENERGY STAR for commercial buildings as small as 5,000 SF also increases transparency and hopefully shift demand (and therefore value) to the most efficient buildings.
Transportation – City initiatives often include a fuel efficiency tax to incentivize the use of electric vehicles, but access to a charging network can hinder consumers wishing to make the switch from fossil fuel to electric. To address this concern, some cities have considered requiring charging stations to be installed in new parking lots and garages.