Fort Worth Partner-Ally Network
The city of Fort Worth’s City resource conservation efforts date back more than thirty years as a community-based response to the energy crises of the 1970s. Over the years, the City has developed a best-practice approach to implementing successful energy conservation projects within its municipal facilities. By improving these city owned buildings, Fort Worth will save $65 million in the next 10 years. Key to the City’s approach has been the use of a competitively-selected energy services company to assist in the implementation of city resource conservation program projects through nine energy savings performance contracts (ESPCs). To date, the City has invested $67 million in ESPC projects, and expects an 11-year simple payback period.
City leadership recognized the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Better Buildings Challenge as an opportunity for the City to expand their long-standing and successful conservation work beyond just municipal buildings, to engage other building owners and operators in a community-wide effort. DOE’s Better Buildings Challenge provided a platform for the City council to help achieve its Council’s Strategic Goals to 1) Improve Mobility and Air Quality, and 2) Promote Orderly and Sustainable Development.
In May 2012, Fort Worth’s City Council officially adopted Resolution No. 4089 authorizing the City Manager to enter into a Better Buildings Challenge Community Partner Agreement with the DOE. In response to this commitment, the city created the Fort Worth Better Buildings Challenge, a community-based, public-private partnership modeled after the DOE’s Better Buildings Challenge initiative as a network of both partner and ally organizations. Through this partnership, the City Council and staff encourage local businesses, universities, and other organizations to join the City in reducing energy and water consumption in Fort Worth’s municipal, commercial, and industrial buildings 20 percent by 2020.
Creating the Fort Worth Better Buildings Challenge Initiative - Fort Worth established the initiative because the national Better Buildings Challenge goals of creating a self-sustaining, voluntary, and community-wide initiative align with and build on its long history of successful collaboration among its business and community leaders.
While city leadership drives the Fort Worth Better Buildings Challenge, two stakeholder groups – partners and allies - are central to its success. Partner organizations represent local building owners and managers who commit to meeting the Fort Worth 20 percent energy efficiency and separate water reduction goal. Allies represent a network of select service providers and representative organizations positioned to provide resources to assist partners in achieving initiative goals.
City staff provides support to the program, bridging relationships in both the ally and partner networks. Securing commitments from local allies to be volunteer-members of a Fort Worth Better Buildings Challenge Advisory Committee was the first step. The 16-seat committee was designed to maximize local, private-sector participation to ensure successful community-wide buy-in. Allies on the committee include influential organizations such as Downtown Fort Worth, Inc., the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) Fort Worth Chapter, Atmos Energy, and the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, which co-chairs the committee with the City’s Conservation Specialist.
Network Membership - Parallel to establishing the Fort Worth Better Buildings Challenge Advisory Committee, the city identified strategic founding partners. Initially, commitments were sought from four highly regarded local institutions considered major employers and community leaders – Lockheed Martin Corporation’s Aerospace Division, the University of Texas at Arlington’s Fort Worth Center, the Baylor Health Care System’s All Saints Medical Center at Fort Worth, and the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History.
To formally launch the Fort Worth Better Buildings Challenge, these founding partners participated in a signing ceremony at a local energy roundtable event hosted by Lockheed Martin Aeronautics at their Fort Worth headquarters. The positive publicity (e.g., example 1, example 2, example 3) generated by the event heightened broader community awareness and interest in the initiative. By the end of the initial outreach phase, the city had successfully secured commitments from six partners and eight allies; the city participates as a member of both groups as well.
With the commitments of initial partners and allies secured in 2012, the groundwork was laid to expand the network to focus on the industrial-commercial-institutional (ICI) customer market, which most directly aligns with the market sector focus of DOE’s Better Buildings Challenge.
When recruiting local partners to join the network, two key documents are used: 1) an introductory letter signed by the Mayor and City Manager, and 2) a one-page network synopsis of the Fort Worth Better Buildings Challenge. Organizations participate in the initiative via a voluntary agreement with the City. The agreement is based on DOE’s Better Buildings Challenge Community Partner Agreement. As of March 2015, there are 14 Fort Worth Better Buildings Challenge partners representing a wide range of sectors including manufacturing, wholesale trade, real estate, education services, health care, arts/entertainment, hospitality/food, and public administration. While multi-family residential buildings are encouraged to participate, single-family residential homes are excluded.
Fort Worth Better Buildings Challenge allies are organized into one of three categories:
- Utility – Energy and water utilities that provide services to Fort Worth Better Buildings Challenge partners, including those with program offerings that target the ICI-market - Oncor Electric Delivery Company, Inc., Atmos Energy Corporation, Fort Worth Water Department.
- Connector – Organizations well-positioned within existing networks to identify and recruit potential Fort Worth Better Buildings Challenge partners - Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, Fort Worth South, Inc., Downtown Fort Worth, Inc.
- Technical – organizations representing technical service providers able to directly assist Fort Worth Better Buildings Challenge partners’ in implementing energy conservation projects - Botanical Research Institute of Texas, North Texas Green Council, North Texas Association of Energy Engineers, Fort Worth Center for Architecture, ASHRAE Fort Worth Chapter, BOMA Fort Worth Chapter
Program Management - The Fort Worth Better Buildings Challenge Advisory Committee established a five-step process to guide the network toward achieving the program’s goal:
- Introduce Network – An advisory committee member, usually a co-chair or associated ally, provides prospective partners an introduction to the Fort Worth Better Buildings Challenge, including information about the partner-ally network, its goals and commitments, utility benchmarking, assessments and project implementation.
- Benchmark Data – Partners are required to use the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager tool to benchmark building utility consumption. The network periodically offers a Portfolio Manager class through a partnership with it local investor-owned utility. Partners track and analyze data to develop a better understanding of their building operations.
- Assess Opportunities – Partners utilize the Portfolio Manager tool to identify and prioritize improvement opportunities in their buildings. Audit and Water Subcommittee representatives offer assistance in conducting high-level building system audits to inform internal discussions and to engage consultants and contractors.
- Build Support for Projects – Partners develop a business case to present internally that meets the requirements of their organization, identifying the opportunities to implement cost-effective conservation projects. Presentation of the information includes a brief scope of work as well as potential funding sources including financing and utility incentives available from the Finance Subcommittee.
- Implement Efficiency Projects – Building system efficiency improvement is an ongoing process. To continue to achieve program goals, the network connects partners with allies that represent consultants, vendors and contractors to help execute projects. A key component of this work is the continuing assistance of the Fort Worth Better Buildings Challenge network in the use of Portfolio Manager to track project performance – verifying that predicted and anticipated savings are achieved.
The City spends approximately $85,000 annually to establish the Fort Worth Better Buildings Challenge. Program development funding supported one, full-time Conservation Specialist, including travel costs and incidental program expenses. This existing position is paid for through the City’s Conservation Reserve Account, a special trust fund account of utility incentive revenues secured periodically through City-implemented conservation measures. The duties of this position were split between the external-facing efforts to establish and support the program and the internal-facing efforts of the City’s Better Buildings Challenge commitment.
Fort Worth Better Buildings Challenge partners utilize Portfolio Manager to update their utility data on at least a semi-annual basis. The City’s experience with Portfolio Manager allows it to assist partners in not only this reporting, but also in the development, construction, and tracking of projects to help achieve the common goal. Some partners choose to utilize the tool monthly, while others update data on a quarterly or semi-annual basis. A City-managed Fort Worth Better Buildings Challenge Intern periodically follows up with partners, providing assistance as necessary in order to assure the City meets its reporting deadlines for the DOE Better Buildings Challenge milestones. On an annual basis, the DOE analyses the entire Portfolio Manager data set before issuing a Fort Worth Better Buildings Challenge energy performance display.
To add further value, the City analyzes Fort Worth Better Buildings Challenge data for each individual partner internally to ensure that data outliers are identified and addressed as partners seek to meet their respective goals. While aggregated performance data is shared publicly, City staff does not publish individual partner data either within the Fort Worth Better Buildings Challenge or publically. Instead, this data analysis is designed to assist partners internally in their efforts to identify which buildings in their portfolio may have high savings potential and to gain greater understanding of their overall progress toward reaching the Fort Worth Better Buildings Challenge goals.
To assess progress in meeting its goal, the city identified the following community resources are necessary:
- City resources including funding and staff to collect, track, and report network-wide metrics;
- Ally resources to assist partners in project development, construction, and performance;
- Partner resources to collect, track, and report project-specific metrics; and
- DOE resources to support metric assessments through Portfolio Manager.
The city measures Fort Worth Better Buildings Challenge network success based on the number of signed Partner Agreements; self-reported, partner-contracted projects; self-reported, volunteer ally hours committed; and the combined average percent energy and water savings of participating buildings as reported through Portfolio Manager.
As of March 2016, the Fort Worth Better Buildings Challenge has the participation of 17 partners, committing over 20 million square feet to the 20% reduction goal and 12 allies committed to helping the partners achieve these savings. Data collected through 2016 shows a 16% improvement in the buildings committed through the Fort Worth Better Buildings Challenge. This reporting indicates that the city’s community Partner Agreement to the DOE’s Better Buildings Challenge is on track to the achievement of its goal.
With ongoing assistance from the DOE and committed local ally organizations, the Fort Worth Better Buildings Challenge continues to grow its local network of committed partners. Fort Worth Better Buildings Challenge allies are ramping up their efforts to conduct energy and water audits, identify project funding and financing options, and plan networking events and communications to nurture the network’s progress and ensure this future network growth – all actions that will assure the implementation of projects to achieve greater community goals and transform energy markets.
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.
Large City, Urban Area; population 833,319
To engage local property owners and operators to reduce building energy and water consumption by at least 20 percent by 2020
Reaching my community
In 2012, the City launched the Fort Worth Better Buildings Challenge, a public-private partnership, to facilitate energy and water improvements in local buildings as well as city facilities
As of March 2015, the City of Fort Worth has engaged 17 partners, committing 20 million square feet to the 20% reduction goal and 12 allies committed to helping the partners achieve these savings; data collected through 2016 shows a 16% improvement in Fort Worth’s portfolio