Managing municipal energy use often requires coordination of a variety of departments within the city government including finance, accounting, procurement, facilities, and sustainability departments. Communicating and coordinating energy management goals and plans across departments helps ensure the program is operating optimally.
Too often, though, opportunities for savings are lost because key parts of the efficiency chain are segregated or “siloed.” For example, the finance department pays the bills while the facility manager maintains the building but never sees the bills. Individual departments, especially large public service departments like police, solid waste, and utilities may even maintain and upgrade facilities separately from other city departments. The City Efficiency Leadership Council’s case study Optimizing Energy and Water Management in Local Governments reviewed how Texas six largest cities breakdown energy management functions and their strategies for creating cohesive energy management across departments.
Energy Management Functions by City and Department
Although some cities have achieved a level of centralization of energy management in Facility Services or Offices of Sustainability cross functional teams are usually necessary for broad energy efficiency. The make-up of the team is key to its success. It should be interdisciplinary and cross cut both the full portfolio of buildings and the individual facilities. Including team members from different project phases as well, decision makers and finance may be more involved in the beginning but should remain involved post retrofit to remain informed about savings. Facilities level managers should be involved in the early stages of project scoping in order to help define real needs and provide insight on how the facilities actually work day to day. A central organizer and champion is valuable is maintaining flow of communication and keeping the team engaged and in scope.
Cross-Functional Energy Management Team
Your energy management team should engage multiple departments and functions through all phases of the project.
In addition to internal green working groups external stakeholder advisory bodies can help provide direction and momentum to energy efficiency efforts. Many local governments convene citizen commissions to provide guidance and oversight on sustainability initiatives including energy management and efficiency. Examples include City of Dallas’ Environment and Sustainability Committee, Austin’s Joint Sustainability Committee, and San Antonio’s Citizen’s Environmental Advisory Committee.