Strategic Energy Action Plan

Action Area 5: Strive Toward 100% Zero Carbon Municipal Buildings By 2030

The Sustainable and Resilient Charlotte resolution sets an expectation that the City will strive to run all City-owned buildings on zero carbon energy by 2030. The approach needs to address behavioral change as well as changes in mechanical systems and operations. Data gathered through analysis of current energy consumption and facility audits will extend staff knowledge about the opportunities for demand and consumption reductions. This Action Area will be delivered by the CREDIT team in consultation with City leadership.

Achieving zero carbon facilities by 2030 is an aspirational and ambitious goal for the City organization. Achievement of the 2030 goal will be dependent on many factors, including technological advancements, operational compatibility and risk management, and the availability of appropriate resources and funding. For some segments of City facilities, achieving the goal may not be possible because operational and other concerns will outweigh or not allow for carbon reduction benefits. However, the City is committed to and will look for all opportunities to achieve the goal.

Task 1: Revise the Policy for Sustainable Facilities to align with the Sustainable and Resilient Charlotte Resolution in FY20

The resolution expectation and the implementation of the ‘5 Steps to Zero Carbon’ diagram pushes beyond the current policy requirements. Among other things, this will mean incorporating additional metrics into the policy, including carbon emissions calculations for the Global Protocol for Cities (GPC).

Step 1: Adjust the policy to meet the requirements of the Sustainable and Resilient Charlotte resolution

It should be a function of CREDIT to establish the weighting of the Council resolution goals against the other goals laid out in the current LEED-based policy. The policy should include a clear process for staff to follow to make the best decisions about facility construction and renovation in light of the resolution.

Step 2: Align the roles of the SFOT to CREDIT

The team structure of SFOT will have significant synergies with CREDIT. Consequently, careful thought needs to be given to how these two approaches will exist. Recognizing capacity challenges, merger of these two groups can be explored.

Task 2: Identify Specific Building Targets for Action in FY20

A complete listing of buildings by operational type and their potential for being subject to the ‘5 Steps to Zero Carbon’ process will need to be established by CREDIT. This will require widespread engagement, particularly with departmental leadership and building managers. One or more example buildings will need to be identified earlier – in FY20.

Step 1: Make data-gathering and analytical capacities more robust

As a starting point, data needs to be carefully examined and incorporated into the decision-making process. This will entail making good use of all energy consumption data, and conducting energy audits in a strategic way. Combined approaches to the five steps then need to be identified – establishing if there are any equipment synergies.

Step 2: Build employee awareness and identify individual(s) that will carry messages about reducing energy consumption and demand in each building

CREDIT cannot deliver this work on its own. The projects to deliver zero carbon futures require that individuals with a working understanding of each building are incorporated into each stage of the project planning. The stakeholder engagement tool should be used to identify who will be involved.

Step 3: Consider compulsory training on energy efficiency and demand reduction for building operators and facility managers

This program could be an updated version of the highly successful UNCC-SIBS Building Re-tuning Training (BRT) program supported by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Building operators and facility managers will

need to go through a compulsory education and awareness program to help them to identify the difference and how their actions can support the transition to a zero carbon future. This is part of a change management activity to change behaviors and understand new procurement requirements.

Step 4: Ensure that procurement processes support cost-efficient approaches to meeting the goal

CREDIT will need to work with procurement teams and identify how to standardize decisions and minimum efficiency standards for new equipment that do not impact operational performance. Individual user requirements will need review, e.g. who requires two monitors for their work, when servers are required to update, etc. An enforcement process needs to be put in place. The total cost of ownership, including the equipment lifespan and financing opportunities, need to be incorporated into the cost projections.

Task 3: Focus on specific projects in FY21

The level of data required needs consideration; too high a level becomes unwieldy and a barrier to action, while too little provides a lack of certainty. However, certain things are known – LED lighting requires less energy, and more efficient monitors and computers can pay back on energy savings – and these types of aspects can be put into place ahead of more detailed data requirements.

Step 1: Through strategic audits, identify the buildings and/or building types with the capacity for incorporating renewables in financially viable ways today or in the future

The cost of on-site generation technologies continues to decrease. They are not always cost competitive in all areas today. This cost competition is linked to the right time frames, as well as the certainties of energy pricing that comes attached to them. With an understanding of the onsite potential for each building (part of the energy audit) the price opportunities can be known and identified with projections.

Step 2: Identify buildings with largest opportunity for savings and payback

Consider selection of a flagship building to retrofit as a demonstrator. This will require additional considerations and weightings that incorporate softer issues such as location and awareness raising. This will need to be determined by CREDIT.

Step 3: Reduce the demand for heating and cooling of internal spaces. Some suggested areas for achieving this include:

  1. Reduce the area that needs to be heated / cooled through passive measures

  2. Develop strategy for enforcing no new natural gas boilers in retrofits or new buildings

  3. Ensure Building Automation Systems (BAS) or Energy Control Systems (ECS) are being effectively utilized and building operators are knowledgeable about operating standards (see Task 2, Step 3)

  4. Modify building envelopes to ensure climate appropriateness and reduction of leaks

  5. Analyze chilled, hot water, and steam solutions – particularly in areas where there are clusters of buildings

  6. Utilize on-site renewable energy generation technologies to provide space and water heating

The specifics of these will be identified through the energy audits. These bullets should form part of the training afforded to staff. The considerations for linking buildings together is one that should be considered and goes beyond most energy audits.

Step 4: Reduce energy consumption and shift energy demand from appliances and lighting

These are key for day to day aspects of procurement in every building, with policies that can be established for them rapidly. This aspect of procurement policy should be in place by FY20. This could require at-desk guidance for staff, or localized smart sockets for certain devices to facilitate charging.


  1. Change procurement requirements of lighting and appliances

  2. Set parameters for the use of small appliances in the workplace

  3. Maximize natural light and minimize artificial light

  4. Integrate onsite electrical renewables

  5. Load shift to zero carbon availability

  6. Identify and replace early opportunities where payback is proven

These considerations will all be featured as part of the energy audits to be conducted, or developed. Part of this auditing is to understand how these buildings are being used. If staff are often off-site or regularly collaborate away from their desks, then consideration needs to be given to how they use the space and if it is used appropriately.