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GreenStep City Best Practices Buildings and Lighting

Efficient Existing Private Buildings
no. 2

Provide incentives for energy, water and sustainability improvements in existing buildings/building sites.
  • The Local Energy Efficiency Policy Calculator estimates impacts of adopting one or more of 7 energy efficiency policies (for existing public buildings and existing residential buildings) on energy savings, cost savings, pollution, jobs, and other outcomes over a time period set by the user, who inputs data regarding local energy and economic characteristics and level of investment.
  • A mass retrofit of single-family homes could make a huge dent in greenhouse gas emissions: these homes are responsible for 38%of all building energy use and 73% of all residential use. Investments in retrofits also produce immediate economic impact, as most of the money is spent on labor costs for newly hired workers who tend to spend this money locally and increase its multiplier effect. $1 million spent on retrofits creates between 8 and 11 jobs and generates about $300,000 in taxes, according to estimates.
  • According to Energy Efficiency: Engine of Economic Growth (Environment Northeast: 2009), all the money that government agencies, utility companies, and others are spending on efficiency programs not only saves energy, it pumps cash back into the economy - from $6 to $8.50 for every $1 spent.
  • Even simple changes to routine building maintenance can have significant impact. For example, painting 1,000 sq. feet of roof white to create a cool roof is estimated to reflect enough sunlight to counteract the warming effects of 10 tons of carbon dioxide. See the Roof Savings Calculator linked to from the Energy Star Roof products page. Light-colored pavement also reflects sunlight.
  • One-third of Minnesota residential water use is for outdoor irrigation and one-half of that is wasted from overwatering. New precision spraying nozzles can result in 30% water saving: up to 1,400 gal./year. Irrigation system controllers/timers cost about $100. Just by using a soil moisture sensor to communicate with the controller, water use can be cut by 60%.
OPTIONAL for category A, B and C cities
Category B and C cities that choose to implement this best practice are recognized upon completion of at least one action.

Category A cities that choose to implement this best practice are recognized upon completion of at least two actions.
In virtually every city the number of existing buildings dwarfs the number of new buildings being built every year. This huge stock of existing buildings and the building sites on which they sit, most of which were not designed for resource efficiency, offer many opportunities to make sustainability improvements. Even buildings that are relatively new frequently present a number of economically beneficial opportunities for efficiency upgrades, which help meet greenhouse reduction goals and also pay for themselves in reduced operating costs. Moreover, buildings with high energy efficiency and whole-building optimization improve occupant quality of life, employee productivity, and have a higher resale value.
greenstep advisor
Laura Millberg, MBA, LEED AP BD+C, Sustainable Development and Climate Resilience Principal Planner, MN Pollution Control Agency, for green building improvements: 651/757-2568, Laura.Millberg@state.mn.us, http://www.pca.state.mn.us/yhiz6ef

Peter Lindstrom, Local Government Outreach Coordinator, Clean Energy Resource Teams, for assessment and financing of energy improvements: 612/625-9634, plindstr@umn.edu, http://tinyurl.com/PeterCERTS

connection to state Policy

  • Energy utilities are required to demonstrate annual efficiency or conservation reductions under the 2007 Legislature's Next Generation Energy Act.
  • Every public water utility serving more than 1,000 people must adopt a conservation rate structure or a uniform rate structure combined with demand reduction methods by January 2015.
  • State law (504B.161) requires that, in every lease or license of residential premises, the landlord or licensor covenants to make the premises energy efficient by making such improvements that save more money in 10 (or fewer) years than the cost of making the improvements.
  • Every water utility must create a capacity use plan and verify that there is enough water to meet projected needs out 25 years in the metro area and out 10 years beyond the metro.
  • Minnesota's Rain Sensing Technology Law requires that all automatically operated landscape irrigation systems include rainfall sensors that will inhibit or interrupt the operation of the landscape irrigation system during periods of sufficient moisture.