The City of Boise began working on their carbon reduction goals in 2006 when Mayor Dave Bieter signed the Mayor’s Climate Protection Agreement. The plan was seen as an investment in the Treasure Valley in an effort to help local air quality and a commitment by the city to do their part to address climate change. Since then, the city has implemented a number of approaches to reduce energy consumption, including incentives for high-performance and green projects, priority processing for green building projects, reduced permit fees for solar panel installations, recognition and education programs, and changes to city code to encourage high-density commercial and multifamily development, especially downtown.
The city also looked to their own operations to find energy savings. They began pursuing green building certification, including an energy component, using the US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system. They also began tracking energy performance in their existing portfolio, with a goal of identifying and implementing energy conservation strategies. Many of the early energy conservation measures were “low-hanging fruit,” such as LED street lights, interior lighting retrofits, fleet improvements and energy efficiency improvements at the wastewater treatment facilities.
As time went on, it became increasingly clear that existing buildings with aging equipment and infrastructure represented a tremendous opportunity for energy savings. The city realized that more carefully managing their own building portfolio would be the way to demonstrate leadership-by-example in their community. However, Boise was lacking a mechanism to identify inefficient buildings, prioritize upgrades and guide policy. A strategic management plan was needed.