Charlotte, N.C., is taking sustainability to the next level. A collaborative public-private partnership has launched a bold program to cut energy use in Uptown by 20 percent in five years and create new programs in energy, water, air and waste management that other communities can replicate.
Envision Charlotte brings together major employers, building owners and managers, along with municipal, technology and utility company leaders. The goal is nothing short of creating the most environmentally sustainable urban core in the country.
Reducing energy use is the first step, and Charlotte-based Duke Energy is providing the digital smart grid infrastructure, plus energy data and real-time analysis. Duke Energy’s Smart Energy Now includes digital displays in the lobbies of all participating buildings.
Envision Charlotte differs from other Smart Grid initiatives because its tight focus makes measurement, evaluation and collaboration easier. The idea is that detailed information can help change behavior, an approach Envision Charlotte will use with the other three project pillars – cleaner air, reduced water usage and waste management.
More than 70 Uptown buildings are participating in the energy reduction program, allowing data usage information to be collected and sent to a central point for analysis and aggregation. Owners and managers can access real-time information about their building’s energy consumption, allowing them to make adjustments that cut usage and costs. Fortune magazine hailed the initiative as “an especially aggressive model for reinventing the relationship between electric utilities, customers and the built environment.”
Together, Envision Charlotte’s programs will help lower building operating costs, increase profitability, and attract tomorrow’s workforce. They will improve the health and livability of the community and help secure Charlotte’s position as the New Energy Capital.