Climate and Energy Resources for State, Local and Tribal Governments

City Green: The District

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Columbia, Missouri

Federal Funding: $285,547
Project Timeline: February 2011 – March 2013

Project Summary

The City of Columbia, Missouri launched the City Green initiative to improve energy performance in Columbia's downtown, known as The District, and to remove barriers to greenhouse gas (GHG) measurement. The initiative's energy reduction measures have improved economic competitiveness, strengthened community values, and provided greater access to energy and GHG reduction resources.

The City’s City Green initiative is now complete. As of March 2013, 114 participants were enrolled in the initiative, exceeding the initial goal of 100 participants. Utility consumption datasets have been collected for each participant and entered into the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager database. Twenty ASHRAE Level II energy audits have been completed, all of which have had energy efficiency projects completed. The audits included eight commercial kitchen ventilation energy assessments for local restaurants. In addition, the program completed 29 energy conservation projects, including lighting retrofits, air sealing, insulation, HVAC units, and water heater replacements. The City has conducted community outreach throughout the community via print and TV media, fact sheets, seminars, and other events. Moving forward, program participants that continue to implement energy conservation measures will proceed to enter data into the Portfolio Manager program.

The City also worked closely with the Special Business District, a collective of downtown business and property owners, to incorporate stakeholder needs. Project managers also educated residents and tenants in The District about the importance of reducing energy consumption by using the information and data collected about the project's energy improvements as evidence. The City updated Columbians about the project through forums, videos, bill inserts, the City website, and the City Channel TV, which broadcasted energy audit procedures and project success stories.

The City Green initiative encouraged strategies to reduce GHG emissions from local government operations and community-based programs by raising awareness, showcasing how changes can be implemented, and documenting the impacts of those changes.

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Community Characteristics 

Population:                                 98,831

Area:                                         53 square miles

Government Type:                       City

Community Type:                        Small Urban

Median household income:             $41,381

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Final Results

Projected Cumulative Results

Annual GHG Reductions

1,039 mt CO2e

1,003 mt CO2e

Annual Electricity Reductions

1,277 MWh

1,241 MWh

Participating Businesses



Completed Efficiency Projects



Annual Cost Savings



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Lessons Learned

  • Coordinating closely with local businesses increased the effectiveness of the project’s goals.
  • It was initially a challenge to get people to participate in the grant. Until there was word of mouth, the City was only able to get participants by asking them in person.
  • Getting action in response to an energy audit is very difficult. Audits need clear, actionable items, in summary format, prominently displayed at the beginning of the report. They are not taking the time to read through the entire report. Further, it is “Greek” to them.
  • A good way to sell energy efficiency is through vendors when they are making their sales anyway.
  • Businesses where vendors provided turnkey projects were much more likely to be completed.

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Sustainability/ Replication

  • As Columbia Water & Light utility customers did projects, they told their friends, which generated more interest, not just in the grant funds available, but also the desire to increase their energy efficiency.
  • The City found that one project in a building, led to the owner doing additional energy efficiency projects in that building and / or projects in additional buildings they owned.

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Project Websites

City Green: The District website

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