July 23, 2013 By Brian Heaton
Los Angeles wants to slash energy consumption by 20 percent across 30 million square feet of commercial structures by 2020. But acquiring power usage data from all the buildings to evaluate progress hasn’t been an easy task for city officials.
The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) doesn’t have the capability to transmit its data in an automated fashion, which impedes the timely collection and aggregation of the usage data, according to Dave Hodgins, executive director of the Los Angeles Better Building Challenge (LABBC).
To solve that problem, LABBC has the task of extracting the energy consumption data from dozens of buildings for evaluation and monitoring. LABBC is part of an initiative sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy to reduce energy consumption in existing buildings, from retrofitting city-owned facilities and affordable housing units, to working with the private sector to finance energy and water efficiency upgrades in commercial buildings.
Launched by President Obama in 2011, the Better Building Challenge is aimed at improving how the country uses the $200 billion it spends annually on energy for buildings. On average, 30 percent of the energy is wasted. U.S. manufacturing plants spend an additional $180 billion annually on energy.
Backed by grants from the Energy Department, nearly 50 communities as well as state and local governments, including L.A., have partnered with the challenge, committing to report publicly on energy consumption from public and private buildings every six months, with the goal of developing a model that achieves energy savings.
All over the country, community leaders are looking to boost economic development through various initiatives. One key element in many of those initiatives is the use of information technology. When local governments build IT infrastructure, create e-government applications, assist high-tech startups or otherwise focus on technology, they create conditions that draw businesses to their communities and help retain skilled workers. This paper discusses and provides examples of these various ways local government can use technology to ultimately make a community more attractive to businesses, visitors and residents.