In front of a large crowd of members from the sustainability community, Mayor Andy Berke on Tuesday announced that the city of Chattanooga has accepted the Department of Energy Better Buildings Challenge. The Better Buildings Challenge is a national initiative that encourages leaders in the public and private sectors to make buildings more energy efficient by accelerating investment and sharing of successful best practices.
During Tuesday’s announcement, Mayor Berke relayed the importance of local leadership in sustainability efforts, naming Green|Spaces EmPower initiative and EPB’s recent PEER certification as examples. Michael Walton, executive director of Green|Space, provided an in depth description of the Better Buildings Challenge before Mayor Berke officially announced the city of Chattanooga’s participation.
“The Better Buildings Challenge will add to the hard work and results we have already achieved,” said Mayor Berke. “Since 2013, the city has reduced its energy use by over 11 million kilowatt hours by making some relatively simple changes like controls for HVAC and lighting. But we can – and will – do more.”
Through the Better Buildings Challenge, the city of Chattanooga has established a baseline for energy use, which will help the city monitor and adapt practices to further reduce their energy consumption. Over 70 percent of the city’s contribution to greenhouse gas emissions comes from their municipal building portfolio, which includes over 200 buildings and approximately two million square feet.
“On average, our 200 buildings combined use about 250 million kilowatt hours of energy per year. By taking the Challenge, we are committing to reduce our energy use by 20 percent over a 10 year period.”
Following Mayor Berke’s announcement, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce announced they would take the Challenge as well.
“The Chamber is pleased to be an initial supporter, not only in our own property on Broad Street but also by advocating strongly for our membership to understand the gains to be had from their participation – both large companies and small,” said Bill Kilbride, president and CEO of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce. “Sustainability reduces costs and builds goodwill for the company, its employees and their families, their supply chain, and their community.”
Several members of the Green|Spaces board of directors as well as representatives from Tennessee American Water Company and EPB were all in attendance to show their support for this effort.
“At EPB, one of the most rewarding things we get to do is help our customers find ways to maximize the energy efficiency of their buildings,” said David Wade, COO of EPB. “One way we do that is by offering free energy checkups for our residential and commercial customers to show them where they have opportunity to improve the efficiency in their properties. And if they choose to make upgrades to their properties, we even come back after the work has been done to check and make sure it meets our quality standards. Just last year we were able to help our business customers save over 17 million kilowatt hours through this process.
“It makes perfect sense that we would jump on board with the Better Buildings Challenge. We’re looking forward to continuing our work with the city and helping more companies – and residents – use energy as efficiently as possible as part of this project. We want to thank Mayor Berke and the city of Chattanooga for their leadership in sustainability efforts. We’re proud to be a part of this great city.”
The city is also encouraging other businesses and organizations to take part in the Better Buildings Challenge. The initiative is free and provides access to technical expertise, from the DOE to private partners such as Sprint, auto manufacturers and 3M, to help achieve the goals for Chattanooga.
To that end, the city of Chattanooga and EPB will host a workshop on March 2 at EPB Headquarters downtown for interested community members to learn more about taking the challenge as well as what is involved in an energy checkup.
To learn more about the DOE’s Better Buildings Challenge, visit: http://betterbuildingssolutioncenter.energy.gov/