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SWAP 3 is live! Watch the cities of Atlanta and Boston take on energy efficiency

By Maria T. Vargas, Director, Better Buildings Challenge on Apr 20, 2017

Through the Better Buildings Challenge SWAP, DOE has found a new way to highlight energy leaders and make it fun to see how peer to peer sharing – across very different buildings and businesses --can drive even greater energy and cost savings. Launching today is our third SWAP featuring the cities of Boston and Atlanta. These two very different cities come together to SWAP ideas, jabs and expertise to demonstrate how large metropolitan areas are creating more sustainable communities. Mayors Kasim Reed and Marty Walsh are part of this SWAP as they empower their city energy teams to tackle everything from historic spaces to modern infrastructure.

Industry giants Hilton Worldwide and Whole Foods Markets were the first to swap energy teams in 2016. The second SWAP pitted the Air Force and Naval Academies against each other. In both cases, the teams came away with powerful new ideas to drive greater efficiency across their buildings by listening – and swapping ideas with— a peer.

Today, SWAP 3 highlights what is possible in American communities. As the Boston and Atlanta match-up shows, cities have unique challenges and opportunities as they develop creative, energy-efficient solutions. One challenge is that cities own and operate an array of very different buildings: from municipal buildings like public works facilities, libraries and water treatment plants, to airports and outdoor venues including neighborhoods and stadiums. The opportunities are vast in cities. As the Boston and Atlanta teams exchange ideas throughout the 3 webisodes, other communities, large or small, can learn a lot. Local leaders from cities everywhere will learn some key takeaways from what the energy experts in Boston and Atlanta are doing to help create more energy-efficient buildings and actively engaged communities.

For example, in Boston, city officials are working to ensure their neighborhoods are equipped with the latest, most efficient lighting technology. The team from Atlanta learned a lot from Boston's Hyde Park Neighborhood streetlight project which upgraded its fixtures to LED lighting. At Boston's public works facility, a rooftop solar panel was installed to help offset utility power, which has saved the city thousands in additional energy costs and allowed city officials to dedicate the savings to other public endeavors necessary to the citizens of Boston.

The team from Atlanta shared some helpful tips to upgrade its HVAC efficiency at Boston's historic library in Copley Square, which is one of the city's most oldest buildings. With a lot of help from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the City of Boston has reaped the benefits of a voting population that heavily supports funding energy-efficiency projects. In Atlanta, however, the city is working toward garnering additional support from the State of Georgia, which is working to become more energy efficient as well. 

The City of Atlanta has made great progress in its sustainability efforts. The Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is the most traveled in the country, and boasts one of the only LED-illuminated runways equipped with lighting sensors that adjust to natural light. Boston energy officials noticed Atlanta could improve its HVAC airflow in the airport, which was a simple fix that Atlanta officials were able to address very quickly. At the Hemphill Water Treatment Plant, Atlanta's energy-efficiency experts demonstrated the annual energy savings the plant has achieved using variable frequency drive technology in its treatment systems, while Boston officials noted some minor behavioral changes employees can do to reduce wasted energy even further.

SWAP 3 highlights many helpful ideas that can easily be replicated by cities nationwide. Check out all 3 short webisodes here!

What's next for the Better Buildings Challenge SWAP? Stay tuned – SWAP 4 is coming soon!