Healthy & Resilient Homes and Buildings Goal 1: Scale up utility-scale investment in renewable energy
Building performance standards
BE-1.1: Develop and employ a building performance standard beginning with energy benchmarking, and adopt commercial energy efficiency programming and incentives.
A combination of energy conservation regulations and incentives will help set an environmentally healthy baseline for businesses, as well as encourage the adoption of efficiency measures. Municipal building performance standards require building owners to take direct action to meet specific city-mandated performance improvements for their property.
Cities establish long-term higher performance standards with manageable targets in between, and built-in flexibility for business owners to choose the energy efficiency strategies that make the most sense for their needs. Guidance from the International Code Council provides a framework for local governments in establishing and adopting building standards.
These standards require robust benchmarking to assess and monitor individual property goals, and data can be used to create programs, technical assistance, resources and incentives. State and local governments and utilities should collaborate to expand financial incentives like rebates and loans, program management solutions, and code enforcement strategies.
Incentives for used EVs or EV carsharing to expand EV charging would benefit low-income communities. Expanding charging infrastructure to underserved communities should be prioritized after extensive neighborhood education, outreach and input.
BE-1.2: Certify every public building for Energy Star or LEED
Green building certifications signal a commitment to sustainability, which is especially important for public agencies. The EPA’s Energy Star program for Commercial Buildings is a robust network of resources, benchmarking data, certification and support, making it an invaluable tool to help organizations reach their energy efficiency goals. The U.S. Green Buildings Council’s Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) program takes a more holistic approach to building performance, and providing recognition and certification to building owners who meet their standards. The U.S. Green Buildings Council’s new Arc platform also helps organizations track and score building performance in accordance with LEED or Energy Star goals. Third-party certifications like Energy Star and LEED would enable public institutions to demonstrate exemplary environmental stewardship.
Energy efficiency investments in public buildings would promote green jobs in the energy efficiency sector. Building upgrades provide healthy environments for public institutions and agencies that serve underserved populations.
Strategies for civic institutions
BE-1.3: Implement energy efficiency and renewable energy strategies at schools, universities, nonprofit organizations and libraries
Energy savings are crucial for civic institutions like schools, nonprofit organizations and libraries. Reducing energy burden will increase resources available for essential services and community development efforts.
Utilities can develop programming that provides nonprofits and libraries with complementary facility assessments and energy efficiency solutions to help lower operating costs.
In addition, Energy Star provides helpful resources and services for universities and schools. Utility incentives and rebates, and Building Exchange loans may support nonprofit and public agency efforts. Energy Star and/or LEED certification may signal community commitment to sustainability and healthy community spaces.
Building energy improvements will enable community resources to also serve as affordable cooling centers during periods of extreme heat.
Reduced energy spending for public service institutions can lead to a greater investment in community services and programming. Increased investment in energy efficiency investments also cultivates green jobs.