4 Reasons Cities Neglect Energy Efficiency

seattleA lack of long-term vision and hard-to-measure energy efficiency metrics are just two of the four major reasons cities ignore energy efficiency opportunities, according to an article on PublicCEO.com.

There is an “antiquated expectation” among many organizations that investments should achieve a simple payback between one to four years, according to the article. But, due to this ingrained lack of long term vision many payback estimations are “too simplistic and one dimensional,” especially if a major retrofit is being undertaken, writes Thomas Jackson, vice president corporate strategy at Climatec.

Jackson offers up the example of replacing just one incandescent lightbulb with an LED bulb. Spread over four years the $1 incandescent bulb appears cheaper at just $0.25 a year compared to a $10 LED bulb that would appear to cost $2.50 a year. However, when energy savings and the fact that the incandescent bulb will probably need to replaced about 42 times before the LED bulb is replaced, writes Jackson.

Energy efficiency metrics are also currently hard to measure, writes Jackson. Due largely to the relative newness of energy efficiency as a benchmarking criterion, many cities, and even many different types of building, use different tools for measurement. While this situation makes it hard to track city-wide results, it is changing, writes Jackson. Boston, for example, initiated a city-wide standard energy efficiency measurement standard earlier this year.

Major opportunities for energy efficiency are often ignored in favor of low hanging fruit, writes Jackson. This has been led by a focus on cost cutting rather than investment.

Finally, Jackson argues that many energy efficiency projects lack the sexiness to gain traction in government. While solar panels on the roof of city hall may grab headlines, often, the replacement of, say, an underperforming boiler could be just as important, but likely would get far fewer column inches. A city’s mindset need to be “of continual improvement.”

Photo credit: Seattle in the evening with Space Needle via Shutterstock

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