Climate and Energy Resources for State, Local and Tribal Governments

Non-Profit Greenhouse Gas Reductions Program

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Baltimore, Maryland

Federal Funding: $190,500
Project Timeline: February 2010 – January 2013

Project Summary

The City of Baltimore has completed the third and final round of its Non-Profit Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Reductions Program. During the three-year program, staff recruited local non-profit organizations, including churches, synagogues, community organizations, and neighborhood associations, for energy and sustainability assessments. Undergraduate students conducted energy assessments and worked on an array of resources for the non-profits, including a cost-analysis tool to calculate projected savings from energy-efficient appliance upgrades and a listserv featuring grant opportunities. The City also collected and analyzed energy data from program participants over the three implementation rounds to track their savings and maintained relationships with non-profits by helping them implement energy assessment recommendations and following up with them over the lifetime of the project. The City of Baltimore has also completed an analysis of the overall project results.

Baltimore engaged with the local non-profit organizations to help achieve the City's target of a 15 percent reduction in electricity use and GHG emissions by 2015. The non-profit sector represents one-third of total private employment in Baltimore and was among the hardest hit by the economic recession. As a result, non-profit organizations require support to reduce energy use, and have the most to gain from energy cost savings. The City sought to achieve these reductions by:

  • training student coaches at Johns Hopkins University to audit and benchmark building energy use at non-profit organizations, and
  • helping non-profits access incentives, grants, and loans to finance energy efficiency upgrades.

Reducing the burden of energy bills for these non-profits allowed them to focus these resources on their core missions of providing key social services for the community.

Through a sub-grant with Johns Hopkins University, the City of Baltimore trained student coaches to work with 60 non-profits, benchmark their energy use, and conduct visual energy audits of their buildings. Students received 50 hours of training on energy benchmarking, auditing, employee engagement, identifying low- and no-cost energy savings, and connecting their clients with energy efficiency incentives.

Based on these audits, the coaches identified energy efficiency measures in the buildings of non-profit organizations. Low- and no-cost measures included purchasing occupancy sensors for offices and conference rooms, replacing fluorescent bulbs where models that are more efficient were available, and updating computer energy management settings. Coaches worked with staff to identify behavioral changes that could reduce energy use and GHG emissions. They also worked with non-profits to access existing incentives, grants, and loans in order to implement energy efficiency improvements.

The benefits of this program included a direct reduction in energy use and GHG emissions within buildings in the non-profit sector. In addition, the program built capacity by providing energy efficiency training to student coaches and by raising non-profit organizations' awareness of energy use and GHG emissions. The program used tools such as ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager to help non-profits measure their energy use on a sustainable basis.

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Community Characteristics 

Population:                                 637,000

Area:                                         78 square miles

Government Type:                       City

Community Type:                        Urban

Median household income:           $39,000

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Final Results

Projected Cumulative Results

Annual GHG Reductions

49.4 mt CO2e

760 mt CO2e

Annual Energy Savings

126 MWh

1,023 MWh

Annual Cost Savings



Participating Non-Profits



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Lessons Learned

  • Although not the primary goal, co-benefits of implementing energy efficiency include reducing asthma incident levels by lowering local air pollution and establishing an infrastructure to measure non-energy resources such as water consumption and waste generation.
  • Working with local non-profits trusted by the community helped participants realize the personal benefits of adopting energy efficient practices.

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  • The energy efficiency strategies that participants learned will continue to be beneficial.
  • Training others in the community with regard to energy-efficiency will promote the continuation of behaviors after a program ends.

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Project Websites

Baltimore Office of Sustainability websiteExit
Baltimore’s Climate Showcase Nonprofits MapExit

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