Is Your City Energy Efficient?

Are you worried about climate change, the economy, and/or saving money for your family's monthly budget? Have you ever considered the role energy efficiency can play in finding solutions to problems raised by each? If not, then you may want to consider the findings of the first City Energy Efficiency Scorecard by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, or ACEEE. The report opens by stating:

Energy efficiency may be the cheapest, most abundant, and most underutilized resource for local economic and community development. Considerable evidence documents that investments in energy efficiency can improve community self-reliance and resilience, save money for households, businesses, anchor institutions, and local governments; create local jobs; extend the life of and reduce the costs and risks of critical infrastrutcture investments; catalyze local ecnomic reinvestment; improve the livability and local asset value of the built environment; and protect human health and the natural environment through reducing emissions of criteria pollutants and greenhouse gases.

Well said.

As it turns out, proactive cities across the country are enacting innovative programs to boost energy efficiency and realize those spelled-out advantages. So chances are good that long-term programs are already under way in an urban center near you. For example, Chicago partnered with Exelon (NYSE: EXC  ) for its Exelon Solar City project. The array produces only 10 megawatts of power, but the much larger Antelop Valley Solar Ranch One project in Los Angeles has a capacity of 230 MW. That's enough renewable energy to power 75,000 homes each year!

In a similarly disruptive approach, Cree (NASDAQ: CREE  ) offers municipalities a $100 LED street light that's 65% more efficient than its traditional counterparts. The company also wants to help make your home more efficient and offers a range of LED light bulbs that use 85% less energy and last 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs. You may have never thought a business selling energy-efficient light bulbs was investment-worthy, but nothing is smoother than three-year sales growth of 60%.

Cities are a bit more complicated and slower to adopt certain policies. Nonetheless, you're probably wondering where your hometown ranked in the first-of-its-kind scorecard. Check out the following presentation to find out -- and see what you can do to boost your city's standing when ACEEE reports again in 2015.

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