Transitioning buildings toward net-zero energy makes buildings healthier and more comfortable, and smart approaches to retrofitting and new construction can create an economic boon for the city.
The Carbon-Free City Handbook: Electricity
Electricity generation is a major contributor to global climate change, accounting for nearly one quarter of all emissions. But cost-effective renewable energy sources present an unprecedented opportunity for cities.
Action 13: LED Smart Streetlights
Replace traditional lights (e.g., high-pressure sodium) with energy-efficient, smart LED luminaires and networked control (for real-time monitoring, on/off, dimming). Further use the streetlight network—both the physical poles and digital communications backbone—for additional sensors, cameras, and intelligent automation of city services.
- The Chicago Infrastructure Trust. Chicago Smart Lighting Project Request for Proposals (RFP) Volume I: Instructions to Proposers (ITP). 2016.
Chicago’s smart lighting project RFP
- City of San Diego. Request for Proposal (RFP) for Street Light Conversion Project Design-Build Contract. 2010.
San Diego’s streetlight conversion project RFP
- Elberg, Richelle, and Eric Woods. Smart Street Lighting as a Smart City Platform: Applications and Connectivity Best Practices. Navigant Research, 2017.
- GSMA. GSMA Smart Cities Guide: Street Lighting.
- U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. “DOE Municipal Solid-State Street Lighting Consortium.”
Action 14: Electric Districts
Avoid and/or eliminate/replace fossil-fuel infrastructure (i.e., natural gas for heating, cooking, hot water) in favor of electric-only buildings and infrastructure, ranging from individual buildings to entire developments, neighborhoods, and districts.
- Government of the Netherlands, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy. Energy Agenda: Towards a low-carbon energy supply. pp. 64-65 (Natural Gas Policy).
The Netherland’s natural gas policy, including guidelines for no new and removal of existing
- Municipality of Amsterdam. Naar een stad zonder aardgas (English Translation: To a City Without Natural Gas). 2016.
Amsterdam’s strategy and action plan for becoming a natural gas-free city
- City of Vancouver. Zero Emissions Building Plan. 2016.
- City of Palo Alto. Sustainability and Climate Action Plan (Draft – April 2016). 2016.
- O’Sullivan, Feargus. “Why Amsterdam Is Giving Up on Natural Gas.” CityLab, November 18, 2016.
- NU.nl (Sanoma Media Netherlands Group). “Amsterdam wil CO2-uitstoot verminderen als aardgasloze stad (English translation: Amsterdam wants to reduce CO2 emissions as a natural gas-free city).” November 17, 2016.
- Amsterdam Smart City. “Urban Energy Transition.”
- CityZen. “Amsterdam 2050: A gas free city.”
- CityZen. “Urban energy transition methodology.”
- Pieters, Janene. “Subsidies for Amsterdam Homeowners Who Stop Using Natural Gas.” NL Times, August 11, 2017.
- City of Amsterdam. “Amsterdam subsidieert aardgasloze woningen (English Translation: Amsterdam subsidizes natural gas-free homes).”
- Van den Ende, Eline. “A Revolution: The Netherlands Kisses Gas Goodbye, But Will It Help the Climate?” The Energy Collective, June 7, 2017.
We now begin with a heat revolution, where every Amsterdammer is involved. I’m proud that we are working hard together in Amsterdam to make existing neighborhoods natural gas-free. We’re just going to do it.
‐Abdeluheb Choho, Amsterdam Alderman and Head of Sustainability, City of Amsterdam (as quoted on nu.nl)
Action 15: Municipal Solar Installations
Install solar photovoltaics (PV) on all available municipal sites, including building rooftops (e.g., city hall, schools, police/fire, community centers, transit depots), carports, and other structures, and ground mount solar PV on appropriate land (e.g., rights of way, infill, brownfields). Make available for community solar projects.
- City of Kansas City, Missouri. Request for Proposals: City-Wide Solar Energy Project (RFP No. EV1587). 2012.
Kansas City’s city-wide solar energy project RFP
- City of Kansas City, Missouri. Master Solar Lease and Access Agreement. 2012.
Kansas City’s master lease agreement between the city and its solar vendor
- City of Kansas City, Missouri. Solar Services and Access Agreement. 2013.
Kansas City’s solar services agreement between the city and its utility
- Farrell, John, and Matt Grimley. Public Rooftop Revolution. ILSR’s Democratic Energy Initiative, 2015.
- U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy. “Solar Energy Resource Center.”
- U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy. Solar Powering Your Community: A Guide for Local Governments. 2011.
- Richard, Michael G. “Kansas City to install solar panels on 80 municipal buildings, save taxpayers $40k/year.” Treehugger, May 28, 2013.
- City of Kansas City, Missouri. “Meet 5% of the City’s electricity demand with renewable energy.”
- Farrell, John. “Solar Potential on Public Buildings in Kansas City.” Institute for Local Self-Reliance, June 22, 2015.
Action 16: Municipal Renewable Supply
Leverage various mechanisms (e.g., utility green tariff programs, direct supply, power purchase agreements [PPAs], city ownership of utility-scale renewable generation) to secure renewable energy supply—often from beyond the city’s borders—to meet all energy use not covered by on-site renewables.
- City of Houston Strategic Purchasing. “Solicitation Files for T25140.”
Houston’s strategic renewable energy procurement RFP
- Philadelphia Energy Authority and City of Philadelphia. Request for Proposals for Renewable Energy Power Purchasing. 2017.
Philadelphia’s renewable energy procurement RFP
- International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). Renewable Energy in Cities. 2016.
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “Green Power Partnership Top 30 Local Government.” 2017.
- City of Copenhagen. “CPH Carbon Neutral 2025 – Energy Production.”
- Gerdes, Justin. “Copenhagen’s Ambitious Push To Be Carbon Neutral by 2025.” Yale Environment 360, April 11, 2013.
- State of Green. “Wind Turbines in Copenhagen – Heading for Carbon Neutrality.”
- Slavin, Terry. “The European cities moving faster on clean energy than their governments.” The Guardian, July 6, 2015.
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Carbon-free cities can provide more efficient and economic options that are tailored to different transportation needs—with no emissions—and that create vibrant urban spaces.
Industry is a major employer and economic driver in many global cities, significantly shaping a city’s carbon emissions. Strategic partnerships with corporate residents can achieve economic and environmental solutions that benefit everyone.
Cities can shift the flow and management of their biological resources to reduce emissions, capture carbon, and provide numerous other benefits to a city.
Cities have an important role to play creating or expanding financing options and improving access to such financing.
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