by Brianna Crandall — February 10, 2014—Despite budget constraints, U.S. mayors expect to significantly expand their investment in energy technologies over the next five years, according to a new survey of nearly 300 cities highlighting how cities are deploying new energy technologies to make their city operations and communities more energy efficient.
The survey, titled Energy Efficiency and Technologies in America’s Cities, was unveiled during The U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) 82nd Winter Meeting in Washington, DC, at a session with mayors and U.S. Energy Secretary Moniz.
“This survey shows again how mayors are leaders in energy innovation, deploying new technologies, pursuing new efficiency systems, reducing their communities’ energy use, and lowering costs for their taxpayers. Their best practices as well as the findings of this survey confirm that investing dollars in city energy efforts is a very good investment for the private sector and the nation,” said USCM president, mayor of Mesa, Arizona, Scott Smith.
Carried out as a public-private collaboration with the Philips Lighting Americas division of global diversified technology company Royal Philips Electronics, the survey also indicates that mayors plan to make energy-efficient lighting technology (LEDs as the primary example) a top priority over the next two years. Light-emitting diode (LED)/energy efficient lighting was also overwhelmingly rated as the “most promising” technology for reducing city energy use and carbon emissions, with more than four in five cities of those surveyed (82%) reporting.
“The impact of lighting on an urban environment cannot be underestimated. It is simply one of the most important steps that mayors can take to make their cities feel safer and meet the sustainability goals of the 21st century city,” said Bruno Biasiotta, president and CEO of Philips Lighting Americas. “When we partner with forward-thinking communities, making their city buildings more energy efficient, their streets brighter and safer, and turn darkened structures into iconic symbols of their cities, we not only aid in cost savings, urban recovery and civic pride, we provide truly meaningful innovations. Our survey results show that mayors recognize this and we can help them take action.”
Retrofitting existing buildings
In addition to lighting, retrofitting public buildings also ranked as a top priority in improving the energy efficiency of city infrastructure. Significantly, mayors expect to use their own local resources, followed by partnerships with the private sector, as the sources of financing these technologies. And in terms of the actual deployment of new technologies, survey findings reveal that more than seven in 10 mayors believe their local utilities are now their city’s most important partner in doing so. Two out of three cities anticipate increased investment, whether for state-of-the-art lighting or solar energy systems.
Of note, survey results also indicate that with recent weather events and associated power outages, three in four cities have developed plans to keep vital city services operating during sustained outages, and within three years, nearly 90% of all cities surveyed expect to have such plans in place.
Survey results include:
- 54% of cities responding are targeting outdoor lighting for improved energy efficiency or reduced energy consumption, second only to public buildings (83%).
- 67% of cities plan to increase their deployment of new energy technologies over the next five years (as compared to current commitments), 23% expect their deployment to remain the same, and only 4% plan to decrease their deployment.
- The most significant challenges facing cities when it comes to increasing energy efficiency and conservation are budget/funding constraints (84%), followed by high up-front costs (71%). 29% said that it is hard to justify upgrades because their current infrastructure is still working.
- 82% of cities responding named LEDs and other energy-efficient lighting as the “most promising technologies” for reducing energy use and carbon emissions in their city.
- When asked which of the following technologies their city government “previously” deployed, 82% said LED and energy efficient lighting, followed by 62% who listed low-energy buildings or energy-efficient appliances.
- When it comes to improving energy efficiency in buildings, 86% said retrofitting city-owned buildings is now a priority.
- Only 36% of the cities responding have developed a comprehensive energy plan. Of the 64% that have not, 13% plan to develop one in the next year, and 29% plan to develop one within two years.