Climate and Energy Resources for State, Local and Tribal Governments

Building Local Capacity through Intergovernmental Partnerships

Learn about other climate showcase communities.

Warwick, East Greenwich, North Providence, and South Kingston, Rhode Island

Federal Funding: $497,492
Project Timeline: February 2010 – December 2014

Project Summary

To mitigate high energy costs and climate change impacts, the City of Warwick and its partners at the University of Rhode Island (URI), North Providence, East Greenwich, and South Kingston implemented the Intergovernmental Partnership Program to mitigate high energy costs and climate change impacts. The partnership was established to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in municipal and residential buildings and facilities.

The four municipalities began their energy efficiency projects by measuring energy performance in municipal buildings, schools, and water treatment facilities. With support from Energy Service Companies (ESCOs), municipalities then developed energy management plans to implement energy efficiency and conservation measures, and energy policies and guidelines. Each community developed and formally adopted an energy policy through the respective city/town councils. Additionally, URI published Energy Management Guides to help the municipalities through the process of developing and implementing energy improvement plans.

The utility data for several cities were entered into EPA’s Portfolio Manager and the Energy Fellows continue to provide assistance to the communities on using Portfolio Manager and on general utility bill management. URI is working with the communities to develop and implement showcase projects. The Town of East Greenwich implemented energy efficiency projects on public facilities, including an LED streetlight retrofit project, installation of a gas-condensing boiler and insulation of their Town Hall, and installation of a waste oil heater at their Highway Garage. The Town of South Kingstown conducted an outdoor lighting retrofit and a lighting efficiency upgrade at public facilities, and URI developed a factsheet to share successes from the community’s project. The City of Warwick hosted a steering committee meeting to report on progress of all of the implemented showcase projects and for the communities to learn about additional resources available from the URI team in order to continue conservation and efficiency efforts.

To address behavioral change, the four municipalities implemented training and outreach programs. They identified behavioral barriers to saving energy by working with stakeholders and opinion leaders. Based on these results, the project will provide a suite of training programs for municipal employees and residents.

The project's benefits include reduced energy use, water use, and GHG emissions that reduce municipality costs. Municipal employees and residents will have increased knowledge of—and increased capacity to change—energy use patterns. The project is integrated with complementary actions through the EPA Community Energy Challenge and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Through these linkages, it will generate programs and resources that can serve as models for other communities. Other benefits include improved air quality, reduced solid waste, and a stronger green economy in Rhode Island.

Top of Page

Community Characteristics 

Population                                 86,000 (Warwick)

                                                33,500 (North Providence)

                                                13,000 (East Greenwich

                                                28,000 (South Kingston)

Area                                          515 square miles

Government Type:                       City

Community Type:                        Urban

Median household income:          $63,309 (Warwick)

                                                $46,997 (North Providence)

                                                $63,309 (East Greenwich)

                                                $71,056 (South Kingston)

Top of Page


Final Results

Projected Cumulative Results

Annual GHG Reductions

457.9 metric tons CO2e

3,080 metric tons CO2e

Annual Electricity Savings


1,913 MWh

Master Energy Training Participants



Top of Page

Lessons Learned

  • Invite a range of stakeholders and project staff to Steering Committee Meetings. Having Town Managers, financial staff, Town Managers, and community leaders meeting in the same room was key to making progress on developing plans and next steps. This open, collaborative structure also encouraged sharing of resources, lessons learned, challenges, and brainstorming of solutions.
  • Municipal staff have limited time and resources to allocate to implementing energy efficiency projects and investing in energy management practices that compete with the focus on immediate tasks and responsibilities to manage the community’s infrastructure. This made it difficult for some of the partnering communities to spend allocated project funds by the end of the original project period, leading to two yearlong extensions.
    • To overcome these challenges the team relied heavily on a growing collaborative partnership with National Grid. National Grid was able to bring in greater expertise on project selection and streamlined procurement and financing options. Once municipal leaders were able to hear directly from credible National Grid representatives on the limitability of financial incentives for projects, expected benefits, and the implementation process became as transparent and simple as possible, the municipality was quicker to spend the funds.
  • Energy benchmarking proved to be a tedious process. The usefulness of the energy data to identify cost-effective energy projects and verify savings made it imperative for URI Energy Fellows to spend a significant amount of time to collect data from National Grid and the communities and log this data into EPA’s Portfolio Manager Tool. This resulted, however, in establishing an effective close working relationship with National Grid.

Top of Page

Sustainability/ Replication

  • The program team continues to promote the project through presentations, and they developed case studies that can be used by RI municipalities, school districts, and state agencies.
  • The URI Energy Fellows Program can serve as an opportunity for these municipalities to continue engaging in energy efficiency and sustainable energy management practices by hiring a Fellow to work for a full year in their community. The undergraduate or graduate student is low cost and will work for a full year in the community completing such items as updating energy data, identifying projects for increased energy savings, communicating on behalf of the community with National Grid, RI OER, and Commerce RI as needed, and implementing behavior change programs. The municipality would gain a dedicated student eager to work and learn and the student would be gaining an experience addressing real-world energy issues in a municipality.
  • Each municipality had the ability to leverage additional funds to complete more energy efficiency projects. For communities looking to undertake a similar project, leveraging all available funds is often a key component in a project’s success.

Top of Page