Case Study: These Cities Strategized Millions in Commercial Building Efficiency Savings

Denver and New Orleans audited municipal buildings to see where energy inefficiencies were costing taxpayers money.

What Happened?

Denver launched a new energy efficiency program aiming to lowering inefficiencies in commercial buildings. Meanwhile, New Orleans wrapped up its energy initiative which included collecting energy use data of all municipal buildings.


The Denver City Energy Project audited commercial and multifamily buildings in the city in hunt of energy inefficiencies. The project aimed to:

  • Generate $1.3 billion in energy savings
  • Reduce 800,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions
  • Boost economic development

By checking buildings for waste and investing $340 million in energy efficiency improvements in commercial and multifamily buildings, the city hoped to save enough energy to power 73,000 homes for one year.

To do it, Denver called on residents and businesses to measure building energy performance using ENERGY STAR’s Portfolio Manager tool and share the score with the city. Denver benchmarked more than 7 million square feet of municipal buildings as well, with a goal to reduce energy use by 20 percent by 2020.

All data gathered by the city and community members would help the city make educated decisions on how best to implement energy efficiency solutions. The city aimed to maintain the energy project long term to ensure continual improvements are made and energy savings are achieved. The project was expected not only to cut costs and emissions, but also create 4,000 jobs.

According to the Restorative Leadership Institute, improving energy performance can:

  • Help companies attract top talent
  • Boost worker productivity
  • Reduce operating expenses

Furthermore, the Institute for Building Efficiency reported 36 percent of companies will pay more to lease space in energy efficient buildings. And 26 percent plan to develop tenant spaces with high-performance standards in the future.

New Orleans

The city of New Orleans completed the first step in a new resiliency initiative by collecting data on the energy use of all 92 municipal buildings such as libraries, offices and recreational facilities. City officials analyzed the data and identified structures in need of energy efficiency improvements to reduce emissions and save money. Other buildings were categorized as benefiting from energy upgrades and retrofits to boost long-term savings.

Collecting municipal building energy use is one part of the city’s larger strategy to make New Orleans more resilient and sustainable. Having been devastated by Hurricane Katrina and other inclement weather, city officials were determined to build smarter, using more efficient resources and technology. New Orleans wanted to reinvest in the community to attract residents and businesses back, but wants to ensure the money is used effectively. Energy reductions generate significant savings and free up capital to support other developmental projects.

The data collection process was funded by the Natural Resources Defense Council, the city of New Orleans and local developer Green Coast Enterprises. By creating a baseline of existing energy use, the city planned to reevaluate building performance after improvements were made to ensure continual reductions in use over time.

The Face of Efficiency

EfficientGov has reported on wide array of efficiency projects that use the latest technology to reduce emissions and generate revenue.

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