January 2013 Featured Article
Generating Program Funding through Energy Savings
Make 2013 Your Year to Go Green
These days, there is trouble on the funding horizon. Federal and state grants are disappearing. The fiscal cliff looms in Washington. Municipal revenues are stagnant. A troubled economy shows few encouraging signs of an aggressive rebound.
Yet municipalities still have economic, social and community development needs to be met. There continue to be requests for new programs and initiatives. Challenges remain.
One creative strategy for reducing day-to-day financial and budgetary concerns comes from an age old American tradition: competition. Through an EPA sponsored initiative, many communities across the country are establishing programs that challenge agencies and organizations, in both the public and private sectors, to reduce their energy consumption.
Competitions spur public interest. They are also great ways to get individuals and agencies engaged so they see how their efforts make an immediate difference. It is fun and it can save your community money. It is also great publicity and demonstrates your municipality’s commitment for a sustainable energy future. .
Here’s how it works: Go to the following website www.EnergyStar.gov/competitionguide. Here you will learn how communities are defining challenges for new building development and for school districts, municipal agencies and other organizations to reduce energy consumption.
Results happen in a number of ways. First, they stem from voluntary actions, namely being more judicious about turning out lights, reducing the demands on copiers and other office machines, turning off computers and making it a habit to reduce day-to-day energy consumption in other practical ways. Second, results come from changes from traditional lighting to other, more energy efficient sources of light, including architectural changes in building design that affords natural lighting. There are also more expensive alternatives such as revamping old and outmoded HVAC and other systems; the replacement of which would have occurred as part of a building upgrade anyway.
The bottom line in all of this is that the savings realized in your municipal government and in the community at large will enable you to invest in other things that people want, and these savings can be substantial.
There are over 3,300 buildings nationwide that are competing right now to earn a top spot as an energy saver. So far, savings have totaled more than $37 million dollars. The public sector is also engaged in many states and localities across the country. A school district in Bloomfield, Minnesota registered a 47% savings in its annual energy bill. Imagine how such reductions in your municipal budgets would afford you the opportunity to put that money to other uses, or simply reduce your day-to-day fiscal burdens.
Increases in grant funding are not options that anyone can count on. Municipalities must find other ways to increase the availability of funding resources. Creating an energy savings competition in your community can be a fun and easy way to raise some extra money that can be used to meet other pressing needs. Beyond the competition, the Board of Public Utilities (BPU) has the Direct Install http://www.njcleanenergy.com/di program under the Clean Energy Program. This is another way communities can create savings while providing services to residents.
Triad Associates is currently the League’s Grant Consulting Firm. Their firm, which is known for its expertise in community and economic development, including strategic planning, redevelopment, acquisition, relocation and funding, has brought diverse plans and projects to life by generating more than $580,000,000 for over 120 public, private and nonprofit clients throughout the Northeast region since 1978. Every member of the Triad team is personally committed and dedicated to the success of its clients and the projects that benefit communities.