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A team of the Climate Interest Group with members from across the U.S. have extensively reviewed existing municipal and other climate action plans and distilled the really valuable ACTIONS that can be taken. TEN key actions are shown in the graphic and are described in more detail below.

The largest greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions come from the production of energy from fossil fuel and the use of that energy in transportation and buildings, so, these two areas offer the best opportunities for reduction.  Specific actions that local governments can take to reduce GHG emissions are shown above and described in more detail below.


1.               Terminate fossil fuel purchase contracts and enter only into renewable energy contracts.  In cities where the utility is owned and managed by the city, accelerate transition to 100% renewable energy purchase contracts.  (This may mean enacting local “REACH codes” that exceed state law requirements.)  Publish transition plans with dates. Terminate fossil fuel contracts and publish the text of fossil fuel supply contracts for transparency.  In cities served by investor-owned utilities (IOU’s), offer Community Choice Aggregators (CCAs) and require them to publish data on their use of renewable energy. In IOU cities with no CCA’s, implement a Green Tariff program, by which the city negotiates with an IOU to require the city to buy renewable energy.

2.               Permit new construction only without gas or other fossil fuel energy.  Require all electric energy (no gas, coal or other fossil fuel) in new residential, multi-family residential, commercial, school and municipal construction. Where permitted, implement REACH building codes.

3.               Retrofit or build municipal buildings/structures for renewable energy and energy efficiencyRetrofit to all-electric in existing municipal buildings (offices, warehouses, schools, libraries, parking structures, transit stations and other publicly owned buildings). Install solar PV arrays (panels) and/or green roofs.  Install LED lighting.  Implement energy efficiency measures. 

4.               Require, or create incentives for, retrofit of privately owned buildings for renewable energy supply and energy efficiency.

§  Require energy retrofitting whenever title is transferred.

§  Require collection and disclosure of energy use benchmarking data to potential commercial renters/lessees/buyers in buildings over 20,000 square feet and to potential buyers of residences. 

§  Offer “tariffed” payment plans on utility bills so that property owners can spread out the cost of energy retrofit investment over a long term.  

§  Offer rebates and incentives for non-fossil fuel appliances, including heat pumps and water heaters, and LED lighting.  

5.               Offer incentives for and facilitate residential, neighborhood and commercial rooftop solar.   Expedite permits and reduce city administrative costs for residential, neighborhood and commercial roof top solar.   Offer incentives, rebates, discounts and financing plans so that citizens can afford to install solar energy systems and are motivated to do so.  Cities can take advantage of their purchasing and aggregating power to negotiate a lower price with vendors of renewable energy systems (whether for solar photovoltaic, solar thermal, heat pumps, or other renewable technologies) and host bulk purchasing programs to lower consumer cost. Eliminate barriers and burdens on roof top solar such as solar surcharges or caps on net metering.  Assess the short and long term environmental and economic aspects of distributed energy supply and microgrids as opposed to purchased energy transmission  over distances.

6.               Offer community solar programs to enable renters/low-income persons to enjoy benefits of solar or other renewable energy.  Community solar projects, or shared solar energy plants, are solar developments whose electricity is shared by multiple commercial, municipal, school or non-profit entities.  They are a hybrid between “behind the meter” and “utility-scale” solar.  They are often subscription based, where a household can subscribe to a community solar project with no upfront fees and typically pay a lower price for electricity.  This is distinct from “green power programs” where a utility company offers ratepayers an option to purchase from renewable energy sources.  Virtual net metering (VNM) may be used to allow households to receive credits associated with a renewable energy project. 

7.               Replace fossil fuel municipal vehicles with renewable energy powered vehicles. Replace municipal passenger cars and bus fleets with EV’s on a schedule, completing transition by a fixed date.   Replace other vehicles in fleet, including light and heavy trucks, with ZEVs and LEVs. 

8.               Install, or incentivize the installation of, EV charging stations in public and private parking lots and convenient locations. Require, or incentivize the installation of, EV charging stations in parking lots for new or modified commercial and multi-family residential buildings.  Install EV charging stations in publicly owned buildings, parking lots and convenient locations. Streamline permitting processes to make it easy and fast for property owners to install EV charging stations. Reduce or waive the cost of permits.

9.               Offer incentives and rebates for EV and electric appliance purchases. Offer incentives and rebates to residents to purchase or lease EVs, such as premium location parking in public lots, discounted charging, rebates, and discounted vehicle programs with local dealers.

10.           Reduce vehicle miles travelled (VMT) within a city by planning measures and incentives.  Reduce vehicle miles travelled within the city by providing free or low-cost public transportation passes to residents and workers, offering incentives for carpools such as free carpool lots, and improving bike lanes. Prioritize VMT impact in planning and permitting new construction.  Encourage work/residence proximity.


Ten Processes to help implement actions.