Despite budget constraints, U.S. mayors expect to significantly expand their investment in energy technologies during the next five years, according to a new survey of nearly 300 cities highlighting how cities are deploying new energy technologies to make their city operations and communities more energy-efficient.
The survey, titled “Energy Efficiency and Technologies in America’s Cities“, was unveiled during The U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) 82nd Winter Meeting in Washington, D.C. at a session with mayors and U.S. Energy Secretary Moniz at the Capital Hilton.
“This survey shows again how mayors are leaders in energy innovation, deploying new technologies, pursuing new efficiency systems, reducing their communities’ energy use and lowering costs for their taxpayers. Their best practices, as well as the findings of this survey, confirm that investing dollars in city energy efforts is a very good investment for the private sector and the nation,” says USCM President Mesa, Ariz., Mayor Scott Smith.
Done in conjunction with Philips, the survey also indicates that mayors plan to make energy-efficient lighting technology (LEDs as the primary example) a top priority over the next two years. LED/energy efficient lighting was also overwhelmingly rated as the “most promising” technology for reducing city energy use and carbon emissions with more than four in five cities of those surveyed (82 percent) reporting.
“The impact of lighting on an urban environment cannot be underestimated. It is simply one of the most important steps that mayors can take to make their cities feel safer and meet the sustainability goals of the 21st century city,” says Bruno Biasiotta, president and CEO of Philips Lighting Americas. “When we partner with forward-thinking communities, making their city buildings more energy-efficient, their streets brighter and safer, and turn darkened structures into iconic symbols of their cities, we not only aid in cost savings, urban recovery, and civic pride, we provide truly meaningful innovations. Our survey results show that mayors recognize this and we can help them take action.”
In addition to lighting, retrofitting public buildings also ranked as a top priority in improving the energy efficiency of city infrastructure. Significantly, mayors expect to use their own local resources, followed by partnerships with the private sector, as the sources of financing these technologies. And in terms of the actual deployment of new technologies, survey findings reveal that more than seven in 10 mayors believe their local utilities are now their city’s most important partner in doing so.
“Mayors remain optimistic about the energy technology marketplace, with two in three cities anticipating increased investment, whether it is for state-of-the-art lighting or solar energy systems. It is not only cities who have a stake in this success, but the U.S. economy when new industries prosper because of these homegrown efforts,” says USCM Energy Committee Chair and Gresham, Ore., Mayor Shane Bemis.
Of note, survey results also indicate that with recent weather events and associated power outages, three in four cities have developed plans to keep vital city services operating during sustained outages, and within three years, nearly 90 percent of all cities surveyed expect to have such plans in place.
Tom Cochran, USCM CEO and executive director adds: “This survey provides timely and useful information on how mayors are leading in ways that save taxpayers money, reduce dependency on foreign energy, curb harmful air emissions, and grow jobs, businesses and the economy. With this survey data, we are establishing a record of local success that continues to build over time. Our partnership with Philips, the Mayors’ Lighting Partnership and this survey effort is an example of how public-private collaborations can further mayoral leadership in this area.”
The report was prepared by The U.S. Conference of Mayors and sponsored by Philips. From Nov. 25, 2013 through Jan. 14, 2014, cities could complete the survey electronically, with 288 responses received by the deadline. By email, the conference contacted nearly 1,400 mayors, most representing cities with a population of 30,000, requesting mayors to complete the survey. More than one in five mayors participated in the survey for a 21 percent response rate.