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 (U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), 2016). 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.

Watch Recorded Webinars

Watch all previously recorded webinars in the On-Demand Webinars library sorted by popular topics such as resilience, zero energy buildings, and more.

2022 Better Buildings Progress Report

To date, the 900+ Better Buildings partners have saved more than 2.5 quadrillion Btus, saving more than $15 billion and 155 million tons of CO2.

Featured Solutions

Denver’s Energy Benchmarking Ordinance requires building owners and managers to annually assess and report their building’s energy performance while providing them with targeted resources to improve energy efficiency.
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.
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.
This webinar explored DOE’s State and Local Planning for Energy (SLOPE) Platform, which integrates and delivers data on energy efficiency and renewable energy into an easy-to-access online platform to enable data-driven state and local energy planning. Attendees also learned how Milwaukee, Wisconsin uses SLOPE in its energy planning process.
The Local Government sector meet-up at the 2021 Summit was an opportunity for attendees to connect and exchange best practices with peers, as well as share accomplishments and challenges in a candid, interactive format.

Other Resources

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.
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.
Milwaukee, WI, created a property assessed clean energy (PACE) program which allows building owners to pay for energy projects through a voluntary municipal special charge that is attached to the property, not the owner. To date, the city has 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

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%.
At these Arvada police stations, combining the use of high-performance lighting, envelope, and equipment options yield 32% savings and $6,500 in annual energy cost savings.
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. In the face of budget constraints and an outdated building, Atlanta partnered with its utility to implement high-efficiency HVAC, building automation, gas condensing water heaters, and efficient lighting, achieving 37% annual energy savings.
A variety of energy efficiency mechanisms were implemented at the library, including a complete retro-commissioning of the lighting and heating controls, leading to 21% annual energy savings.
Shed Aquarium developed an energy efficiency roadmap to reduce energy consumption by 50% by 2020. Key elements included submetering, enhanced automation systems, energy storage, onsite renewables generation, and various other fixture and system upgrades.
Serving as a replicable model for other fire stations, this project included lighting upgrades, infrared heating in apparatus bays, conservation and employee behavior change, and re-commissioning. Energy savings are 12% annually.
The Alliance Center is a nonprofit multi-tenant office building in a converted century-old warehouse. The Center completed a major renovation to upgrade the failing mechanical systems, mobilize tenant behavior and achieve greater cooperation in reducing unnecessary resource consumption resulting in 17% energy savings annually.
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 that save nearly $450,000 in energy costs annually.
This project included lighting retrofits and controls upgrades, solar window film, central plant upgrades, and installation of a facility-wide energy management system. These upgrades significantly improved the indoor environment and save more than $200,000 annually on energy costs.
Fort Worth identified cost-effective efficiency solutions including lighting, air conditioning, enahnced controls, and water system improvements. These measures save 47% energy annually.
The City of Gillette performed a retrocommissioning project at City Hall, identifying opportunities for HVAC system improvement and efficiency as well as boiler upgrades, achieving 24% annual energy savings.
The City of Pittsburgh upgraded its City-County Building in order to reduce operating costs, decrease the City's environmental impact, provide a healthy work envirnment, and maintain the historical integrity of the building. Upgrades included HVAC, steam tunnel, window coverings, repairing the roof's parapet, and replacing existing lighting in corridors. These upgrades are expected to save $190,000 annually.
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 renovation resulted in 31% annual energy savings.
The Rose Building made several facility upgrades utilizing the City of Houston's Energy Efficiency Incentive Program to offset 20% of the project costs, including labor and equipment. These lighting, HVAC, and envelope improvements resulted in 23% annual energy savings.
Through lighting, water, HVAC, building automation, variable flow conversion, and energy manager monitoring, this public library saves more than $250,000 annually in energy costs.
Innovating financing models and performance contracting allowed this convention center to undertake a comprehensive energy efficiency upgrade including rooftop solar, new lighting and controls, boiler and HVAC replacements, and an updated energy management system. Altogether the project saves more than $300,000 annually in energy costs.
Advance Paper Box Company incorporated numerous energy efficiency upgrades into its plant renovation, including HVAC, new ductwork, lighting, solar PV array, and a "cool roof." These improvements achieve 16% annual energy savings.
As part of a city-wide energy audit program, the Central Library was identified for energy efficiency improvements, including conversion of existing pneumatic controls to digital control and installation of new high-efficiency chillers, variable frequency drives, and a reflective roof. These upgrades save more than $100,000 in energy costs annually.
Milwaukee's historic 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. This effort coupled with the Library's additional energy-efficient facility upgrades is expected to yield $47,000 in annual cost savings.
Through facility improvements to its inefficient mechanical HVAC equipment and lighting systems, Seattle's EMP Museum realized 22% in energy savings and $80,000 in cost savings annually.
Spokane County took a multi-measure approach in creating and implementing its energy efficiency strategy for the Regional Health District Building, which included steam plant decentralization, new boiler and domestic hot water plant, controls and system upgrades, new VAV boxes, garage exhaust control and lighting. Spokane achieved 23% energy savings and $40,000 cost savings annually.
The Sanford-Kimpton Building, housing the Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services Department, received a complete recommissioning of its HVAC systems and lighting retrofits. Upgrades to these systems led to 33% in annual energy savings as well as improved tenant comfort.
The City of Denver implemented comprehensive energy improvements at the Richard T. Castro Building including sealing the building envelope, upgrading the building automation system, installing four new high efficiency boilers, and more. These sustainability improvements yield 36% in annual energy savings.
Spokane County's Community Services Buildings achieved 41% annual energy savings as a result of efficiency upgrades to the building's chiller system and optimizing of the HVAC control systems.
Placer County's Granlibakken Conference Center & Resort identified several cost-effective efficiency measures to implement throughout the conference center and restaurant. The project improved property values with an estimated annual energy cost savings of $44,000.
King County achieved 24% annual energy savings and $107,000 annual cost savings by implementing HVAC and lighting improvements to their aquatic center. Upgrades include heat recovery, a new condensing boiler, energy efficient interior and exterior lighting, and a 100kW solar PV array.
The Boston Public Library’s Central Library in Copley Square was selected to undergo improvements to its significantly outdated energy management system. As a result of these efforts, the facility achieved annual energy savings of 25% and annual cost savings of 11% in less than a year.
In line with the City of Orlando's Mayor’s Greenworks Initiative, the Facilities Management Division decided to retrofit the aging Firehouse 5 to be more energy efficient. Updating the 24-hour facility while it was in operation presented a challenge, but the new insulation, LED lighting and air conditioning units would prove worthwhile in terms of comfort and cost savings.
Identified for Orlando's City-Wide Energy Efficiency Initiative due to its higher energy use Intensity (EUI), upgrades include a solar hot water heater, lighting, HVAC systems, and envelope improvements.
Clark County, NV cut annual energy consumption by 37% at their new fire station with an LED lighting and HVAC upgrade 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, saving the library 26% in energy use.
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 to maintain optimum HVAC performance. TSRB reduced it's annual energy cost by 32% and water costs by 9% compared to baseline years, saving more than $123,000 annually.
A 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, all of which brought 37% in energy savings and over $1.7 million savings in energy cost.
The Chattanooga Public Library was constructed in 1976, includes 108,500 square feet of conditioned space, and serves over 285,000 patrons annually. 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 with a 41% projected energy savings.
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% 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 through upgrades to lighting, central plant, and window casings.
HVAC and lighting upgrades to the Hall County, GA Courthouse Annex, plus the establishment of a regular maintenance program, showed 47% energy savings, $30,000 in cost savings, and improved building operations control.
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. Projects included new heat pump systems, VFDs, controls, lighting, and more.
The King County Airport Terminal project is a deep energy retrofit that shows 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, saving 21% in energy use.
LED lighting retrofits to both court and back of house lighting plus comprehensive HVAC upgrades helped reduce energy use at the first LEED Gold certified NBA facility and achieve nearly $1 million in energy cost savings.
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, showing 32% energy savings.
Utilizing funding available through the DOE Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program, Rochester's Sister Cities Municipal Parking Garage upgraded its lighting system resulting in 36% annual electricity savings and $33,000 in annual cost savings.
King County, WA has targeted their trails maintenance complex for zero energy via lighting and HVAC retrofits, plus a rooftop solar PV system, reducing energy use by 35%.

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.
LED technology has improved dramatically over the past ten years, with enhanced manufacturing processes, materials delivering consistently high-quality light output by way of smaller components, and greater interoperability with other digital platforms. Evaluating the expected performance, reliability, and the rapidly changing nature of the technology play a role in the decision making process around an LED conversion.


Within the framework of the Outdoor Lighting Accelerator, we worked to help state and local governments move closer toward a clean energy economy using high performance technologies that reduce the cost of an essential public service--street lighting.
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 ESPC Toolkit is a collection of resources that will enable state and local communities to learn and benefit from the work of the ESPC Accelerator. It includes the best practices and innovative approaches that states, cities, and K-12 schools have used to successfully establish and implement performance contracting.
The Clean Energy for Low-Income Communities Accelerator (CELICA) Toolkits provides materials to help energy efficiency and renewable energy program administrators reduce energy burdens for low-income communities by enhancing and expanding upon work funded through utility, state, or federal programs. 
This toolkit helps water resource recovery facilities establish and implement energy management and planning by collecting best practices and innovative approaches used by wastewater facilities who partnered with DOE's Sustainable Wastewater Infrastructure of the Future (SWIFt) Accelerator.


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.
Whole Foods Market, Houston, TX, and General Motors each described how they have collaborated with utilities to bring big energy savings to their portfolios and help reduce the overall peak electricity demand for the utility. 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 Plants Partner Legrand shared their experiences leveraging friendly competitions to drive building energy efficiency within their organizations.


This webinar explored DOE’s State and Local Planning for Energy (SLOPE) Platform, which integrates and delivers data on energy efficiency and renewable energy into an easy-to-access online platform to enable data-driven state and local energy planning. Attendees also learned how Milwaukee, Wisconsin uses SLOPE in its energy planning process.
The webinar examined Steps 1 and 2 in the Department of Energy’s Energy Data Management Guide, a web-based resource that provides public-sector organizations with a seven-step approach to establish a robust and sustainable energy data management program
The webinar examined Steps 3-5 in the Department of Energy’s Energy Data Management Guide, a web-based resource that provides public-sector organizations with a 7-step approach to establish a robust and sustainable energy data management program, and features proven practices.
The webinar examined Steps 6 and 7 in the Department of Energy’s Energy Data Management Guide, a web-based resource that provides public-sector organizations with a seven-step approach to establish a robust and sustainable energy data management program, and featured proven practices from North Carolina and the District of Columbia.

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. 

Sector Citations

Savings highlighted in the introductory blurb are from the U.S. Energy Information Administration's (EIA) 2016 CBECS Survey. Here is a link to the table that the savings figures were drawn from - https://www.eia.gov/consumption/commercial/data/2012/c&e/cfm/c1.php.

Sector Priorities

Meet the Sector Committee Chair