Mayor Nutter Launches Mayors’ National Climate Action Agenda with Los Angeles and Houston

Mayor Michael A. Nutter announced the formation of the Mayors’ National Climate Action Agenda with Mayors Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles and Annise Parker of Houston during the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting in New York City. The launch of the Mayors’ National Climate Action Agenda comes on the first day of Climate Week, which is an international platform for government, business and civil society to work together on low carbon solutions to the climate change crisis.

“When I took office 7 years ago, climate change and how Philadelphia might begin to address it was very much on my mind. I created an Office of Sustainability and we produced Greenworks Philadelphia, a strategy to address our changing environment and to prepare us for a more sustainable future,” Mayor Nutter said. “Since then, we’ve made real progress on dozens of fronts, from waste diversion to improved air quality. Now, it’s time that cities across the nation come together and work toward a greener, more sustainable future that prepares all Americans to cope with the climate changes that are now impacting our world.”

While serving on President Obama’s Climate Preparedness and Resiliency Task Force, the Mayors of Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Houston each recognized the urgency to join together in not just calling for action but taking action on climate change. Mayors are uniquely equipped to lead the fight to stem climate change, to adapt to it and prepare for the impacts of global warming. Each of these three major cities, and many others, have dealt with extreme weather in recent years, including record droughts, flooding and storm surges.

By calling for national and international binding emission reductions agreements, establishing stronger inventory standards and reporting, committing to a set of local actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and growing the carbon offset market by removing barriers to municipal offset projects, the Mayors’ National Climate Action Agenda is intended to demonstrate that emission reduction projects are not only viable, but essential initiatives that must be embraced across the country. To ensure the Climate Action Agenda reaches as many cities as possible, Mayors Nutter, Garcetti and Parker will initiate a mayor-to-mayor, city-to-city outreach effort to bring mayors together over the coming year to develop a shared framework for local leadership and action.

Philadelphia is well-positioned to lead on climate through the commitments made in the City’s Greenworks sustainability plan, which emphasizes both climate mitigation and adaptation. Thanks, in part, to a commitment to energy reduction in Philadelphia’s building stock (the city’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions), citywide emissions have fallen 9% from the 2006 baseline.

Philadelphia is also in the process of developing climate adaptation strategies for the City’s assets and services. Vehicle miles travelled are also down 9% from 2005, and today, SEPTA was awarded $86.7 million to adapt the region’s transit network to a changing climate. Finally, the Philadelphia Water Department’s Green City, Clean Waters plan has been nationally recognized for its aggressive commitment to developing and expanding green infrastructure.

“The Obama administration has taken important actions to combat climate change, in the form of tightened coal-fired power plant emissions standards and vehicle fuel efficiency standards,” said Michael Mann, Professor of Meteorology, Penn State University. “But equally important are the efforts taking place at the local level. Most promising of all is the newly unveiled Mayors National Climate Change Action Agenda. This effort is led by mayors representing some of our largest cities including Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles, Mayor Annise Parker of Houston, and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter. It is a bold plan that promises to help the U.S. meet our obligation to lower our carbon emissions and help stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations before they reach dangerous levels.”

Findings from Philadelphia’s Energy Benchmarking Outreach

Last month, Resources Media published an evaluation of the outreach and support work done by Seattle in support of its citywide energy benchmarking policy. Seattle’s Help Desk, staffed primarily by a non-profit partner of the city, provided timely and robust assistance to building owners and operators, helping Seattle achieve one of the highest benchmarking compliance rates in the country.

Philadelphia has taken a different approach to assisting building owners during the first two years of implementing benchmarking and disclosure. While both Seattle and Philadelphia’s programs achieved compliance rates of over 90% in 2014, the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability (MOS) has handled nearly all benchmarking assistance and outreach internally, providing a direct link between city policymakers and those most impacted by the new law.

image

As a result, MOS now has two years of data on nearly 3,000 instances of contact between its staff and building owners and operators in the city (for a program that covers nearly 2,000 buildings). As shown in the chart below, users needed support most in the months prior to benchmarking deadlines (November 2013 and June 2014) and following the receipt of notices of violation for non-compliance (January and July 2014).

The chart also illustrates the extent to which MOS worked to make email the primary mode of communication with building owners. Overall, 71% of assistance was provided via email. This allowed MOS to better track the history of building owners’ issues with benchmarking, improving the quality of its support and reducing required staff time.

By managing assistance in-house, MOS was also able to communicate directly the benefits of energy benchmarking to building owners and operators. In many instances, staff were able to learn more about the hurdles facing these buildings when considering investment in energy-efficient projects and direct them to available incentive and loan programs.

If you have questions about Philadelphia’s benchmarking program, contact us at benchmarkinghelp@phila.gov.