FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 25, 2014
During today’s Clinton Global Initiative conference in Denver (CGI Americas), Envision Charlotte and Duke Energy announced that Uptown Charlotte buildings have reduced energy consumption by 8.4 percent since Envision Charlotte was launched, saving businesses more than $7 million. Charlotte is among the first cities in the world to have developed a measurable program in more than 60 buildings within the central business district. Now, Envision Charlotte is announcing a new plan to accelerate energy savings.
“We are well on our way to reaching our goal of reducing Uptown Charlotte’s energy usage by 20 percent,” said Amy Aussieker, executive director of Envision Charlotte. “We have cracked the code in understanding and measuring how energy is used and wasted within these buildings, and we are implementing programs today that are making a real difference in helping these businesses save money.”
The goal of Envision Charlotte’s energy initiative is to reduce the overall energy wasted in participating office buildings by 20 percent within five years. The initiative is focused on commercial buildings within Charlotte’s 1.94 square-mile I-277 inner-belt loop. The initiative partnered with the owners of 61 commercial buildings, representing more than 20 million square feet of office space.
“Envision Charlotte is a fantastic example of collaboration by public and private entities with shared goals of environmental sustainability in Center City,” said Michael Smith, President & CEO of Charlotte Center City Partners. “Uptown Charlotte is a unique laboratory that allows Envision Charlotte to develop proven sustainability practices that can be replicated in other cities. Today is a step toward that goal, and we are excited to share how Charlotte is leading the way in becoming more sustainable and lowering operating costs for tomorrow’s workforce.”
Next Step: Energy Roundtables
The 8.4 percent energy savings can be attributed to two main factors: changes in each building’s operation and infrastructure, and changes in behavior. Today, Envision Charlotte announced a streamlined approach to upgrading each building’s operation and infrastructure. Envision Charlotte’s “Energy Roundtable” approach brings building managers together with UNC Charlotte’s Center for Sustainably Integrated Buildings and Sites (SIBS) program for free building audits. The program is a win-win: engineering and architecture students have a chance to do hands-on audits and make strategic recommendations, and the building managers have a trusted third party helping to educate them about how the building systems work together.
“Envision Charlotte is an economic development differentiator for Uptown Charlotte, where about 40 percent of the region’s office space is located,” said Dan Clodfelter, Mayor of the City of Charlotte. “Lowering energy costs and showing a true commitment to sustainability makes us attractive to millennials, knowledge workers and companies that value cost savings.”
Duke Energy - Changes in behavior
Duke Energy launched “Smart Energy Now” in 2011 – a new program designed to teach and encourage office workers to adopt energy-saving behaviors. Over the past two years, more than 1,500 people have taken an active role in Smart Energy Now and have attended training sessions to learn more about energy consumption, brainstorm ideas on ways to reduce wasted energy and develop action plans to implement in their specific office spaces. In that time, the behavior change across the uptown has collectively reduced energy usage by 6.2 percent.
“Changing habits is hard but very doable if there is a stated goal and momentum to achieve it,” said Gayle Lanier, Duke Energy senior vice president and chief customer officer. “Envision Charlotte was created to leverage collaboration, partnerships and connections across offices, buildings and people for a more sustainable city. The results we’ve achieved demonstrate that, when given the opportunity and tools, the masses can and will come together. And today, Charlotte is a better place to live and work for these efforts.”
Duke Energy has filed plans with the utility commission in both North Carolina and South Carolina to commercialize “Smart Energy Now” as “Smart Energy in Offices.” If approved, communities across the Carolinas will be able to establish initiatives similar to Envision Charlotte.