Examining the Global Initiative on Urban Resilience

July 13, 2012

The impact that commercial buildings in major cities have on the overall global environment is substantial, leading many developed countries to seek more efficient practices in real estate to limit emissions and reduce costs.

The U.S. is surprisingly far behind other nations when it comes to overall energy efficiency, according to a recent report from the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy.

Electrical Construction & Maintenance reported that the U.S. came in ninth out of the 12 developed nations that were measured, and the report found that the country has made "limited or little progress toward greater efficiency at the national level."

"While energy efficiency has played a major role in the economies of developed nations for decades, cost-effective energy efficiency remains a massively underutilized energy resource," said Sara Hayes, report author and ACEEE senior researcher. "Fortunately, there is a lot countries can do to strengthen their economic competitiveness through improvements in energy efficiency."

This is why the U.S. has looked to take more of an active role in transforming its energy efficiency stance, starting with its major cities.

The Department of Energy designated an effort in Philadelphia to help serve as a national model for retrofitting and greening buildings to limit carbon emissions. The Energy Efficient Buildings Hub (EEB HUB) is working with commercial real estate professionals in the historic Pennsylvania city to transform the way that the sector operates.

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is also increasing its push for more efficiency in cities, as the agency joined six other organizations at Rio+20 to launch the Global Initiative on Urban Resilience, according to a release.

"Resilience cuts across all issues and sectors, and provides a new and vital dimension to the cause of sustainable development," said Jason Hartke, Ph.D., vice president of national policy at the USGBC. "This initiative will mobilize a new brand of leadership – leadership that advances
solutions today while preparing us for the challenges of tomorrow."

This initiative sought to tackle challenges facing modern cities, as it addressed problems that major metropolitan areas have in terms of securing funding for new development and convincing organizations to adopt more efficient practices.

"This initiative represents an opportunity for C40 to identify partnerships and resources that can turn plans for adaptation investment into action," said Jay Carson, executive director of C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, noting that Mayors and other leaders within a city need funding to support a change.