Community Strategic Energy Management (SEM)

Guideline / January 11, 2018 / New Construction / Existing Buildings

Over 400 Mayors across the United State have made formal commitments to the Paris Climate Accord. Others have signed onto the 2030 Challenge and/or the Better Buildings Challenge. To meet these goals, an effective strategy to track, manage, and improve municipal building performance is a critical component of city leadership in the buildings sector.

With support from the U.S. Department of Energy and the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, a team of subject matter experts, including EcoEdge, Maalka, and New Buildings Institute have developed a framework to enable cities to lead by example by focusing on the city’s own building portfolio.

This turnkey approach for managing and improving the energy use of the city’s buildings can:

  • Demonstrate good governance and fiscal responsibility
  • Save energy and contribute to the achievement of climate goals
  • Facilitate interagency communications & coordination
  • Increase transparency and staff accountability
  • Improve service delivery to customers and citizens

How does it work?

The framework is based on an enhanced strategic energy management (SEM) approach focused specifically on municipalities. It meets the city where it is, recognizing the important work that may have already occurred. Clearly defined steps help cities convert goals and policies into true performance results. The approach leverages energy benchmarking data and easy-to-use open-source software to organize data, visualize energy usage trends, and uncover high priority opportunities for energy performance improvement across the municipal portfolio. This supports actionable, data-driven decisions that lead to direct improvements in municipal building performance, and can inform requests for proposals for energy service contracts. The overall aim is to develop and implement a clear and actionable path to energy and carbon reduction in municipal buildings. This framework can help cities of all sizes with their municipal building portfolio, however, it is specifically targeted to assist small to medium-sized cities that may not have the same depth of resources as larger cities.

Implementation Guide

The Community SEM Implementation Guide outlines a process to help staff engage stakeholders, set tangible goals, target opportunities, and develop a plan to achieve deep and ongoing energy reductions in public building portfolios.  The Community SEM Guide was produced with support from the U.S. Department of Energy and the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance. This guide was developed by a team including NBI, EcoEdge, Maalka, and NEEA.

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Case Studies

Boise, Idaho—By focusing on carefully managing their own building portfolio, Boise has demonstrated leadership by example on energy efficiency. With support from Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, a team led by NBI was able to help the city of Boise analyze municipal building energy use, focus resources on the best opportunities, and implement a Community Strategic Energy Management Plan.
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Missoula, Montana—The city of Missoula realized that by more carefully managing their own building portfolio, they could achieve emissions goals while saving money. This case study discusses the goals, process, outcomes, and lessons learned from this Community Strategic Energy Management work led by NBI with support from Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance.
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Tacoma, Washington—The city of Tacoma took their commitment to public building energy efficiency to a new level with a comprehensive approach to efficiency in their municipal portfolio. Through a series of meetings with a focus on stakeholder drivers and partnerships, the team helped both the city of Tacoma and Tacoma Power, the utility, clearly define benchmarking goals and methodology. The work was led by NBI with support from Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance.
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Eugene, Oregon—Drafting and implementing a strong Community Strategic Energy Management Plan helped the city of Eugene institutionalize efficiency and emissions reduction commitments into day-to-day municipal operations. The project team, led by NBI with support from Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, helped Eugene analyze municipal building energy data, prioritize opportunities, and create actionable plans that city staff can take to the community and show them how Eugene is walking the walk and talking the talk.
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For more information on this program, please contact Alexi Miller, Senior Project Manager.