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U.S. cities are leading on sustainability - is your business ready?

U.S. cities are leading on sustainability - is your business ready?

Learn how community and business leaders are powering the move to cleaner and more efficient energy sources – and building resilience by implementing distributed energy.

Cities across the U.S. are leading the transition to cleaner energy solutions to tackle climate change, improve air quality, and create more resilient and affordable energy infrastructures. Community and business leaders are acting to improve their energy consumption and carbon footprint. They are realizing that the future of energy involves adopting sources that are renewable and efficient – and they are joining forces to reduce their carbon footprint and focus on environmental sustainability and corporate responsibility.

Moving towards energy decentralization

Powering a community’s energy needs with more sustainable energy sources often involves moving from centralized grid energy to cleaner and more resilient options, including solar power, energy storage and other low or zero carbon on-site resources. By adopting these solutions, organizations have a huge opportunity to become more resilient, efficient and environmentally sound.

The powerful countrywide sustainability trend is demonstrated by the Ready for 100 campaign, which reports that more than 100 U.S. cities have developed roadmaps to implement 100% renewable energy to power their communities’ energy needs, with several having already reached this goal.

Stakeholder pressure is driving the sustainability agenda

Growing public concern about climate change, air quality and energy resilience is helping to drive clean energy policies. Businesses are feeling growing pressure from customers, employees and investors to demonstrate environmental responsibility. This is reflected in our latest research, which shows that social and environmental responsibility is considered the third most important business priority behind efficiency and financial performance. Being “socially and environmentally responsible” is rapidly climbing up the corporate agenda – it was priority number 6 when we last conducted the research in 2017.

Local governments are responding to public opinion and the scientific evidence of the climate emergency by demanding that businesses and communities in their jurisdictions adopt more sustainable energy policies, with recent initiatives by Chicago and New York helping to lead the drive towards decarbonization.

Chicago’s City Council is preparing for the future

Chicago is the largest U.S. city to commit to 100% renewable energy. The city’s sustainability team is developing a transition plan that will include a 100% renewable electric supply to all buildings by 2035 and electrification of the city’s bus fleet by 2040.

The city is demonstrating their commitment further by mandating new construction standards and building codes to support the transition to cleaner energy solutions. These new codes include minimum solar reflectance values for roofs in new buildings and provisions for battery storage systems in new construction projects. In addition, generators equipped with emergency loads must be in place for high-rises to ensure consistent supplies of energy during outages. This is the biggest overhaul of their building controls since the 1940s.

Chicago’s environmental commitment is mirrored by the state of Illinois, which is also demonstrating environmental leadership through its Future Energy Jobs Act. This mandates 25% renewable electricity by 2025.

New York City is taking bold steps towards sustainability

New York City is taking bold steps towards sustainability

The launch of New York City’s Green New Deal has grabbed headlines, with the city planning to drive a nearly 40% reduction in emissions by 2030. A 2017 estimate indicated that buildings are responsible for 70% of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions, so the bill is requiring energy efficiency upgrades to specific buildings starting in 2024 ­­– in a global first, the city is setting an emissions cap for approximately 50,000 existing commercial and multi-family buildings. Failure for building owners to make efficiency upgrades or lower energy usage and emissions will result in steep penalties.

Plans also include converting all government operations to 100% clean energy, banning new inefficient glass-walled buildings, and tackling transportation pollution. Comprehensive resilience planning is also underway, which has taken on even greater urgency given the recent power blackout.

New York City's plan adheres to the Paris Climate targets but is also frontloading the most significant greenhouse gas reductions for the coming decade. Through proposed and existing initiatives, the city says it is on track to achieve its emissions targets by 2030 – the breaking point to turn back the most devastating and irreversible consequences of climate change.

The trend continues into New Jersey

Neighboring New Jersey is also driving environmental transformation through its draft Energy Master Plan, initiated by Governor Murphy, which lays out strategies to reach 100% clean energy by 2050 (with a 50% target by 2030). The plan includes new ways to maximize energy efficiency and incentivize solar and other renewable energy resources, support for the switch to electric vehicles, and underpin grid modernization – including the development of microgrids.

An energy revolution is underway in the U.S.

An energy revolution is underway

An energy revolution is required to deliver on the bold sustainability ambitions of U.S. cities. Fortunately, modern technology is capable of rising to the urgent decarbonization challenge. Decentralization and digitalization are radically reshaping the supply and management of electricity. This is enabling radical grid modernization and opening up cost-efficient new opportunities for organizations to control their energy at a local level – with distributed energy.

Organizations who want to deploy cleaner, more efficient and sustainable energy solutions while boosting resilience should consider distributed energy for their operations. Through this innovative technology, organizations can create a more environmentally sound future while reducing energy costs and strengthening operational resilience.

Demonstrating environmental leadership also has financial benefits.

Fortunately, carbon reduction makes good sense from both an environmental and financial perspective. Our latest research report on future trends in sustainable growth shows that 61% of the most financially successful businesses surveyed also demonstrated advanced energy leadership.

Drive a sustainable, efficient strategy with Centrica Business Solutions

Centrica Business Solutions is helping businesses and communities across the country to take charge their energy consumption by providing leading-edge distributed energy solutions that enable them to:

  • Take control of their energy
  • Improve environmental performance
  • Become more resilient
  • Generate their own power efficiently
  • Demonstrate corporate social responsibility
  • Reduce their carbon footprint
  • And of course – pay less for energy

We provide cutting-edge energy insight and prediction; on-site generation from solar and cogeneration; battery storage; back-up power; energy asset management, flexibility and demand-response aggregation and smart microgrid design and operation.

In addition, we have the expertise to support the transition to electric vehicles. Our integrated EV Enablement package of charging infrastructure and software, together with on-site energy solutions, provides the expert support required to capitalize on the opportunity to move to emissions-free transportation. We can provide the end-to-end support that organizations need to leverage EV, lower their carbon footprint, and drive competiveness.

Take charge of your sustainable energy strategy and demonstrate your environmental and commercial leadership. Harness the power of distributed energy by partnering with us.

Contact our experts to discover how we can support your sustainable energy goals.