Local Government

Local Government

Local government buildings alone consume 2 quadrillion Btus each year, and have the potential to save $3.7 billion annually through a 20% improvement. Through policies and programs, local governments spur innovative energy efficiency solutions, and by adopting best practices in public buildings they lead by example. Their efforts are saving taxpayer dollars, freeing up funding for other public priorities, and driving energy efficiency across their communities.

Try Proven Energy Strategies: Learn from Partner Implementation Models
Interested in Relevant Case Studies?: Explore Showcase Projects
See Real Energy and Cost Savings : View Data Displays
Residential Energy Efficiency for Local Governments : View Resource Guide
Better Buildings SWAP

Watch the cities of Atlanta and Boston as they swap energy teams to improve the energy efficiency of the busiest airport in the world and one of the nation's oldest libraries.

The 2020 Summit is Going Virtual

The Better Buildings, Better Plants Summit is transitioning to a virtual leadership symposium, taking place June 8-11, 2020. Experience 4 days of sessions, workshops, recognition, and more with industry experts and peers.

COVID-19 Resource Center

Dealing with COVID-19 presents an unprecedented scenario for building owners, plant managers, and employees. Better Buildings has collected resources from partners, affiliates, and other organizations that may prove useful.

Featured Solutions

This resource guide provides state and local leaders with streamlined access to key existing resources for developing and implementing high-impact building energy benchmarking and transparency programs in their jurisdictions. It was created by DOE and the Institute for Market Transformation.
The City of Fort Lauderdale developed a no-cost, replicable energy resource heat map tool to visualize hourly usage data for city facilities, allowing the city to identify energy and operational efficiency opportunities and evaluate efficiency impact measures.
As part of its multi-departmental Climate Protection Program, the City of Chula Vista developed and passed an ordinance establishing the FREE Resource & Energy Business Evaluation (FREBE) Program to encourage and assist local businesses in improving their energy and water efficiency resulting in energy savings estimated at 80,000 kWh annually.
King County, WA has targeted their trails maintenance complex for zero energy via lighting and HVAC retrofits, plus a rooftop solar PV system.

Other Resources

Fact Sheet

This document is an overview of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Building Energy Savings Performance Contracting (ESPC) Accelerator, which was a three-year partnership with states, local governments, and K-12 schools to expand access to performance contracting.


This web-based toolkit is the home of all resources developed through the Outdoor Lighting Accelerator.

Implementation Models

Arlington County established a climate action program, now called the Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy, to raise the profile of energy awareness across county activities. The county is saving approximately $1 million per year in avoided costs through electricity, natural gas, and water upgrades.
The City of Los Angeles created the Better Buildings Challenge to simplify the path to energy efficiency for local businesses and public entities. The Challenge provides participating buildings owners and operators with access to a wide range of services such as energy benchmarking, building assessments, utility rebate training, and more.
Macy’s implemented a centralized real-time energy management system and weekly coordination calls with field staff to address energy issues.This has allowed the company to diagnose and fix energy-related issues more quickly and led to average savings of 2%–3%.
Cleveland, OH's municipal action plan enabled the city to accelerate its sustainability efforts in a more coordinated and impactful manner, and is expected to result in a 20% annual utility savings by 2030.
Washington, D.C. took a multi-pronged approach to achieve the city's energy reduction goals with its community-wide planning initiative, legislation, and public-private partnerships.
El Paso, TX launched a Library Energy Challenge to engage city employees and residents in energy efficiency and conservation; it was such a success that the city applied the model to other departments.
Fort Worth Partner-Ally Network Implementation Model
The Fort Worth Better Buildings Challenge was launched in 2012, a public-private partnership to facilitate energy and water improvements in commercial buildings as well as city facilities.
Gillette, WY’s inventory and tracking tool helps the city better manage the maintenance and repair of HVAC equipment, proactively prepare for associated capital needs, and reduce the perception of risk to invest in more efficient equipment.
The City of Hillsboro (OR), which plans to reduce municipal facility energy use by 60% by 2030, overcame inconsistent access to capital for efficiency projects by setting up a Sustainability Revolving Fund that has achieved an estimated $24,000 in annual cost savings.
Houston leveraged an ongoing community outreach program to strengthen participant commitments to reduce energy consumption.
Kitsap County, WA engaged its neighbor Pierce County in a Courthouse Energy Challenge to see which courthouse could decrease energy use the most. Pierce County won the challenge with a 31% energy reduction.
Knoxville convened a public-private task force to develop a comprehensive energy plan for implementing energy efficiency improvements, financing projects, and tracking energy data.
The City of Atlanta leveraged a public–private partnership to create the Atlanta Better Buildings Challenge, which provides access to project financing, free building assessments, education and training, and public recognition. By 2020, the project aims to reduce energy and water consumption in 40 million square feet of buildings by at least 20%.
Milwaukee, WI, created a property assessed clean energy (PACE) program which allows building owners to pay for energy projects through a voluntary municpal special charge that is attached to the property, not the owner. To date, the city has closed 8 PACE projects and yielded annual savings of over $1 million.
Pittsburgh, PA established a Green Initiatives Trust Fund to set aside funds for energy conservation projects and utilizes the savings to fund future projects.
Will County used results from free energy audits to inform an efficiency education and outreach program that has achieved a 22% reduction in energy use while building occupant engagement.
The City Operations Sustainability Plan encourages collaboration among municipal departments and creates a cohesive strategy to accelerate sustainability initiatives throughout city operations, leading to a 24% energy reduction and an annual savings of approximately $270,500.
King County created the Fund to Reduce Energy Demand (FRED), a financing tool where the county budget office issues bonds and provides loans to county divisions for equipment upgrades to reduce energy use, and resulting utility bill savings are then used to pay back the bonds, resulting in a neutral or positive cash flow.
The City of Rochester partnered with the New York Power Authority to develop and implement a replicable Energy Plan aimed at reducing municipal energy consumption by 20%, advancing renewable energy generation, and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions.
Philadelphia created the Energy Efficiency Incentive Program pilot to raise awareness and create accountability in city departments around energy use and conservation, while rewarding departments for energy-saving efforts.
Through its Energy Challenge, Retrofit Chicago leveraged public-private partnerships to deliver building owners customized Energy Road Maps with valuable strategic and tactical recommendations to help them meet a 20% energy reduction commitment. On average, the Road Maps identified opportunities for each building to cut energy use by 22%, for an annual savings of $254,000.
San Diego upgraded its street lighting with LED fixtures and adaptive controls to measure and control energy use, and worked with the local utility to establish more favorable billing rate structures for efficiency measures. As a result, the City cut street light energy use by more than 50% from 2010 to 2015.
The City of Hillsboro formed the South Hillsboro High-Performance Building Partnership—a public-private partnership—to spur above-code development by packaging existing and new incentives and support services for developers and builders, so that they can contribute to the City's ambitious sustainability goals.
To advance its energy efficiency goals, Salt Lake City introduced an Executive Order requiring all City-owned buildings enact an energy management policy. 
The District of Columbia's Department of General Services engaged Sol Systems to develop one of the largest onsite solar energy projects in the U.S. on a 12-month timeline using a unique power purchase agreement. The project spans 35 facilities, including schools, hospitals, police facilities, and more.
As part of its multi-departmental Climate Protection Program, the City of Chula Vista developed and passed an ordinance establishing the FREE Resource & Energy Business Evaluation (FREBE) Program to encourage and assist local businesses in improving their energy and water efficiency resulting in energy savings estimated at 80,000 kWh annually.

Showcase Projects

Arlington Central Library Showcase Project
The Arlington Central Library is one of the County’s energy performance success stories. Since 2000, investments in lighting efficiency retrofits and energy management practices have reduced electricity use at the site by over 40%.
The city of Arvada constructed two new police stations with specific energy efficiency features; they are the city's first LEED-certified buildings.
By revitalizing the Boisfeuillet Jones - Atlanta Civic Center, the City of Atlanta had the opportunity to turn one of its biggest electricity consumers into an energy-efficient showcase facility.
Beaverton City Library Showcase Project
The Beaverton City Library has the highest circulation of any public library in the state of Oregon. A variety of energy efficiency mechanisms were implemented at the Library, including a complete retro-commissioning of the lighting and heating controls.
John G. Shedd Aquarium Showcase Project
Shedd Aquarium is one of the oldest and most respected aquariums in North America and is dedicated to conservation education, animal care, and conservation science and research.
Fire Station 1 Showcase Project
Fire Station 1 serves as headquarters for the City of Cleveland’s Fire Division, which has a total of 27 stations in all.
Alliance Center Showcase Project
The Alliance Center is a nonprofit multi-tenant office building historically housing over 35 tenants in a converted century-old warehouse. In June 2014, the Center completed a major renovation to upgrade its failing mechanical systems, mobilize tenant behavior and achieve greater cooperation in reducing unnecessary resource consumption.
Hotel Monaco, DC Showcase Project
Through a combination of competitive bidding, innovative design, advanced controls sequencing, and attention to hotel guest satisfaction considerations, the Hotel Monaco team compiled a comprehensive suite of impactful retrofit opportunities.
The City of El Paso initiated an Energy Savings Performance Contract (ESPC) in 2007. Building on the momentum of the first four phases of work, which included 44 building upgrades, including renewable energy installations, HVAC upgrades, lighting retrofits, and a facility management system, the El Paso International Airport (EPIA) was an obvious next step.
Southside Service Center Showcase Project
The Southside Service Center project was part of a larger $10.9M phase of an energy savings performance contract (ESPC), and was based on an energy assessment conducted by the City of Fort Worth's competitively-selected energy service company (ESCo.).
The City of Gillette leadership continues to strive to operate city facilities as efficiently as possible to demonstrate stewardship of tax resources.
City-County Building Showcase Project
The goals for this project were to reduce costs of energy use in the building, decrease the City’s environmental impact by using less energy, provide a healthy, aesthetically pleasing work environment for City employees, and maintain the historical integrity of the building.
Shute Park Library Showcase Project
The City of Hillsboro, Oregon, decided to renovate the Shute Park Library after an assessment identified the need to replace the entire roof, update the insulation, and replace the HVAC system. The project would also preserve the unique architectural and historic nature of the building.
The Rose Building Showcase Project
The Rose Building made several facility upgardes utilizing the City of Houston's Energy Efficiency Incentive Program to offset 20% of the project costs, including labor and equipment.
The Jesse Jones Central Library is a six-story public library built in 1975 that is comprised of 230,000 sq. ft. of reading, meeting, office and historical records storage space.
Led by the Mayor’s Energy and Sustainability Task Force, the City of Knoxville undertook a comprehensive energy efficiency upgrade program targeting 99 City buildings, including the Knoxville Convention Center.
Advance Paper Box Showcase Project
Advance Paper Box Company is currently undertaking a complete renovation of its plant buildings in South Los Angeles. The energy efficiency upgrades highlighted here will be the first phase of those renovations. Capital upgrades, including HVAC, new ductwork, a cool roof, and lighting are all a part of this phase.
The historic Los Angeles Central Library Goodhue building was constructed in 1926 and is a Downtown landmark. It is the largest library facility in the City and has been a target for energy upgrades since 2006 when it underwent comprehensive lighting retrofits.
Milwaukee Central Library Showcase Project
Central Library has been designated a landmark by the Milwaukee Historic Preservation Commission and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 2010, the Central Library took its first big step toward environmental sustainability with the addition of a 30,000 square foot green roof with a 30KW solar panel system.
The Berglund Center Showcase Project
The Berglund Center is an entertainment and convention center with a performing arts theater, coliseum, exhibit hall, special events center, and office space. The City of Roanoke, Virginia allocated $750,000 of bond proceeds to evaluate and retrofit/replace HVAC systems, lighting, and other capital repairs as needed. Cost savings are expected to exceed $180,000 annually.
EMP Museum Showcase Project
The City of Seattle retained McKinstry’s Energy Services group to conduct a Directed Engineering Study of the EMP Museum, an iconic museum in downtown Seattle.
Spokane County, in partnership with the State of Washington Department of Enterprise Services, partnered with McKinstry Co. to develop a project to replace aging infrastructure and implement facility improvement measurers to drive energy and cost savings.
Sunny Hill Nursing Home Showcase Project
This 238 bed, 131,400 square foot skilled nursing facility provides services 24 hours per day, seven days per week to support the County’s rapidly growing geriatric population. Comprehensive facility improvements were needed to modernize the facility while continuing to provide services to its residents. Projects were implemented in three phases from 2010 through 2016.
Sanford-Kimpton Building Showcase Project
The Sanford-Kimpton Building, housing the Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services Department, implemented energy conservation measures (ECMs) that had the potential to save the City money on utility costs but also to improve the comfort of employees and visitors to the Health department.
One Maritime Plaza Showcase Project
The Toledo-Lucas Port Authority used its Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) finance program to finance energy efficiency retrofits at its One Maritime Plaza building
The Public Works Energy Reduction Demonstration Project is a retrofit project that will improve the energy efficiency of the facility while increasing comfort for occupants. 
The building underwent comprehensive energy improvements which include sealing the building envelope, upgrading the building automation system, installing four new high efficiency boilers, and utilizing variable frequency drives on HVAC units to allow greater control and synchronization. The building also houses 30 kW of solar panels on its roof. 
In March 2012, Spokane County conducted an energy audit of the Community Services Building, a unique multiuse facility of administrative offices and meeting rooms, with inpatient residential and outpatient treatment programs for substance abuse prevention and treatment.
Placer County's Granlibakken Conference Center & Resort identified several cost effective efficiency measures to implement throughout the conference center and restaurant.The project was financed by mPOWER Placer through the Placer County Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Program.
King County is expecting energy savings of 24% and annual cost savings of $107,000 by implementing a series of HVAC and lighting improvements to their aquatic center. While primarily targeting air quality improvements, solutions will also realize energy savings. Upgrades being implemented include heat recovery in the natatorium, a new condensing boiler, energy efficient interior and exterior lighting and a 100kW solar PV array.
The Central Library was selected to undergo improvements to its energy management system which was significantly outdated and inefficient. As a result of these efforts, the facility has realized an annual energy savings of 25% and annual cost savings of 11% in less than one year.
Fire Station 5 Showcase Project
In line with the Orlando Mayor’s Greenworks Initiative and the necessity for renovation, the Facilities Management Division decided to retrofit Fire Station 5 to be more energy efficient. 
This community center is one of the original projects identified for the City-Wide Energy Efficiency Initiative due to its higher energy use Intensity (EUI).
Fire Station 16 Showcase Project
Clark County has cut annual energy costs by $1,700 and energy consumption by 37% at their new Fire Station 16.
South Library Retrofit Showcase Project
In addition to normal library functions, the South Branch of the Chula Vista Library system provides child literacy programs, tutoring services, passport information, and serves as a County of San Diego Cool Zone for the community. This project included replacing the chillers, upgrading the fan controllers, and replacing the building automation controls.
West Palm Beach retrofitted 6,800 streetlights to more efficient LED and induction technologies, reducing energy use 54% and helping achieve both their Better Buildings Challenge goal and reduce municipal GHG emissions 11%.
On the Georgia Tech Research Institute campus, the TSRB building team implemented a continuous commissioning program in June 2011 to maintain optimum HVAC performance. TSRB reduced it's annual energy cost by 23.5% and water costs by 8.5% compared to baseline years, saving more than $123,000. 
John Ferraro Building Showcase Project
Constructed in 1965, the John Ferraro Building is an iconic office building that houses the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP). This cross-functional effort leveraged energy and water efficiency improvements including lighting retrofits, green plumbing and toilet retrofits, fan system upgrades, and the installation of an energy efficient chiller. 
The Chattanooga Public Library was constructed in 1976, includes 108,500 square feet of conditioned space, and served over 285,000 patrons in FY2015. The city is executing a three-pronged approach to a major energy-efficiency and revitalization effort for the Library, including lighting, HVAC equipment, and digital control upgrades.
Arlington County’s Equipment Bureau replaced its HVAC system, performed an LED lighting upgrade, and installed lighting controls to reduce energy consumption. Since implementation, this project has saved nearly 2,500 MMBtu, (34 percent savings over the baseline), earning $22,000 in annual cost savings. 
Placer County, CA has implemented an energy efficiency retrofit to the historic Auburn Courthouse to reduce energy costs and improve occupant comfort. These retrofits have resulted in 30% energy savings.
HVAC and lighting upgrades to the Hall County, GA Courthouse Annex, plus the establishment of a regular maintenance program, greatly increased energy performance and improved building operations control.
Skokie Courthouse Showcase Project
As part of an energy savings contract, the Skokie Courthouse in Cook County, IL adopted several energy conservation measures, and is expecting to save approximately 59% in both energy and water costs.
The King County Airport Terminal project is a deep energy retrofit focused on replacing the mechanical and lighting systems throughout the facility with state-of-the-art efficient technologies. This project highlights how a modern design approach to mechanical and lighting systems can dramatically reduce energy use, and how older and historic buildings can achieve deep energy reductions and exceed advanced energy code requirements.
Worcester, MA's heating and cooling RTUs in the Department of Inspectional Services were 20 years old and failing. Facing the inevitable cost of replacing non-functioning equipment, the city replaced all four RTUs with energy-efficient units.
Amway Center Showcase Project
LED lighting retrofits to both court and back of house lighting plus comprehensive HVAC upgrades are further reducing energy use at the first LEED Gold certified NBA facility.
Fault Detection and Diagnostics software performed continuous analysis of the HVAC system, which discovered some operating inefficiencies: simultaneous heating and cooling, over-ventilation of occupied space, and air handlers operating during unoccupied periods. The Facilities Department then developed energy conservation measures (ECMs), and conducted a retro-commissioning of the Public Safety Building.
The Sister Cities Municipal Parking Garage, constructed in 1990, is a 338,500 square foot parking structure with approximately 1,000 parking spaces. The garage serves the four corners area of downtown Rochester, including City Hall and Monroe County and federal buildings.
King County, WA has targeted their trails maintenance complex for zero energy via lighting and HVAC retrofits, plus a rooftop solar PV system.

Solutions at a Glance

This tool provides an interactive and visual representation of possible approaches and decisions that will typically be encountered in upgrading/replacing a public outdoor lighting system.
To streamline the proposal process and select the right contractors, the Los Angeles Better Buildings Challenge developed a quick guide that outlines specific questions for contractors to address in their proposals.
Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy (AIRE) and Arlington Public Library system established an Energy Lending Library, which provides a suite of tools to help community members take a hands-on approach to evaluating energy consumption and identifying opportunities to save money on energy bills.
The City of Milwaukee’s three-pronged business and community engagement strategy includes incentives, education and outreach, and recognition to encourage local businesses and K-12 schools to join BBC-MKE and implement energy efficiency projects in their buildings.
To improve the city’s energy management process, Boston implemented a programmatic overhaul, including a blend of in-house and outsourced strategies, to optimize how energy data was collected, analyzed, and reported.
This Energy Benchmarking Analysis Report from Seattle, Washington provides a replicable example of a comprehensive report that includes details on program accomplishments, data analysis methodologies, building characteristics, and energy consumption trends, among other topics.
The City of Fort Lauderdale developed a no-cost, replicable energy resource heat map tool to visualize hourly usage data for city facilities, allowing the city to identify energy and operational efficiency opportunities and evaluate efficiency impact measures.
Building Energy Asset Score: Tool Solutions at a Glance
A national standardized tool for assessing the physical and structural energy efficiency of commercial and multifamily residential buildings.


This tool includes several resource templates that help users cultivate the elected and administrative ESPC stakeholders throughout the jurisdiction with responsibility for supporting and approving ESPC projects. Specifically, the tool includes suggestions for stakeholders to target, sample messaging based on stakeholder function, and frequency and type of contact that will maintain a permanent ESPC network.
This tool includes several resource templates that help users bring together facility managers and other energy efficiency representatives in their state/local agencies as the on-the-ground ESPC project developers and advocates. Specifically, the tool includes suggestions for how to assemble and motivate the champions team, step-by-step instructions for how individual champions can develop and bring ESPC projects to fruition, and tools for maintaining the champions corps.
Anne Arundel County Public Schools (AACPS) developed a Comprehensive Maintenance Plan to remotely monitor and control school building operations, which has helped AACPS to improve portfolio-wide energy performance by 12%.
EMIS gives property owners and managers the ability to see their energy use and take action to reduce waste. This toolkit gives an introduction to EMIS.
This toolkit offers FAQ's, decision guides, and contract templates to help commercial building owners evaluate installing solar PV, including guidance on mounting rooftop PV systems and financing projects.
The Energy Data Accelerator Toolkit is a collection of resources enabling other utilities and communities to learn and benefit from the work of the Accelerator, specifically on how to gain data needed for benchmarking.


The Energy Plan will promote economic development, reduce energy costs, create jobs in Rochester’s growing industry of “green innovation,” and demonstrate Rochester’s commitment to lead by example in creating a vibrant and...


The Seattle 2030 District was one of the first three cities to participate in the Better Buildings Challenge program. The program offers several things - a national showcase of projects, connections to financial allies to fund efficiency projects and technical expertise to implement.
David Hodgins, executive director, Los Angeles Better Buildings Challenge, talks about how the city has received an implementation rate of about 42%, with more than 35 million square feet of properties participating in the Better Buildings Challenge.
Austin Blackmon spoke at the 2016 Better Buildings Summit on Boston's use of reporting and analytics to implement energy efficiency upgrades in city buildings.
Mayor Kasim Reed of Atlanta speaks on plans to meet energy reduction goals.


Presenters offered recommendations for working with utilities to create innovative energy savings opportunities customized to your portfolio type.
A little rivalry goes a long way when it comes to reducing building energy use through behavior change. In this webinar, Better Buildings Challenge Partner City of El Paso and Better Buildings Better Plants Partner Legrand shared their experiences...

Additional Information

U.S. DOE State and Local Solution Center

The State and Local Solution Center provides resources to advance successful, high-impact clean energy policies, programs, and projects. By championing state and local leadership, addressing specific market barriers, and promoting standardized approaches, the Solution Center aims to help states, local governments, and K-12 schools take clean energy to scale in their communities.

The State and Local Energy Efficiency Action Network (SEE Action)

SEE Action offers resources, discussion forums, and technical assistance to state and local decision makers as they provide low-cost, reliable energy to their communities through energy efficiency. Developed collaboratively by state and local officials, energy efficiency experts, and real estate practitioners, the 2020 Leadership Agenda for Existing Commercial and Multifamily Buildings defines the baseline actions that states and communities can take by 2020 to demonstrate national energy efficiency leadership.

Better Buildings Accelerators

Accelerators demonstrate specific innovative policies and approaches, which will accelerate investment in
energy efficiency upon successful demonstration. Each Accelerator is a targeted, shortterm, partner-focused activity designed to address persistent barriers that stand in the way of greater efficiency. The most recent accerators especially pertinent to local governments include: Zero Energy DistrictsWastewater Infrastructure Clean Energy for Low Income Communities, and Combined Heat and Power (CHP) for Resiliency.

Commercial PACE Working Group

The Commercial PACE Working Group is a cohort of state and local governments working together to learn about, launch, and refine C-PACE financing programs. To participate, download and submit the C-PACE Working Group Expression of Interest Form – The C-PACE Working Group will accept qualified Expressions of Interest from State and Local Partners on a rolling basis until further notice. New State and Local Observers and Advisors, as well as Market Partners, are encouraged to join the C-PACE Working Group at any time. 


Meet the Sector Committee Chair