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view from NRDC how Knowledge can help power our cities’ buildings apartment buildings that make up your nearest city skyline? These structures are turning into engines of energy efficiency and climate action. This is already true in New York, my hometown, and also in 10 other cities where the City Energy Project, launched in January by NRDC and the Institute for Market Transformation, is helping vibrant metropolises use their skylines to slash electricity consumption and cut pollution. (Also see our story “A Smarter Skyline, Illuminated,” on page 60.) Focusing on buildings can have a big impact: they account for more than half of all carbon emissions in most U.S. cities. In Chicago, for instance, buildings contribute 71 percent of the city’s carbon pollution; in Salt Lake City, 74 percent. Yet buildings waste a significant amount of energy. The City Energy Project is designed to make it easier for businesses and civic leaders to embrace available solutions to vastly increase efficiency. Improvements such as smarter lighting and more sophisticated heating and air-conditioning systems can make cities healthier and more resilient—and save residents and businesses in these cities nearly $1 billion annually on energy bills. From Orlando to Denver, Houston to Boston, people will benefit from lower bills, cleaner Buildings account for over half of air, and new jobs. all carbon emissions in most U.S. cities. We will all benefit from fighting climate change. I just returned In Chicago, they contribute 71 percent; from California, which had its driin Salt Lake City, 74 percent. est year on record in 2013. The drought isn’t letting up, and people are bracing for steep costs; the 2009 drought, for instance, caused $340 million in lost agricultural revenue in the San Joaquin Valley alone. Extreme drought, storms, and heat waves are on the rise in our communities. To defuse this threat, we must slash carbon pollution and dramatically expand clean energy options such as efficiency measures and wind and solar power. President Obama has helped jump-start this effort on a national level by creating fuel efficiency standards that will cut carbon pollution from new cars in half by 2025. And in June, he is expected to propose the first-ever limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants—our country’s biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions. One of the cheapest and most effective ways to limit carbon emissions from power plants is for cities and states to expand their efficiency measures. And even that is only the beginning. If we want to shield our children from supercharged weather, we need to keep pushing for bigger, more transformative climate solutions, both at the local level and in Washington. But politicians will adopt these clean energy policies only if Americans demand them, so please: add your voice to the growing groundswell. Tell your representatives to support clean energy incentives and strong carbon limits for power plants. Let a local commitment to cleaner air and a stable climate be a part of your hometown pride.

francEs beinecke, President

1 0 onearth

spring 2014

Matt Greenslade/photo-nyc.com

H

ave you looked lately at the collection of office towers and

OnEarth Spring 2014  

Hog Wild, by Ted Genoways

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