For a city to attain sustainability, local authorities and investors must take risks and make compromises. To design, construct, and implement effective policies, urban leaders must carefully consider their chances of success. Premature decisions can lead cities into minimizing effectiveness and maximizing their costs, which is the complete opposite definition of a well-organized plan.

The number one factor we must examine when setting this goal is improving buildings’ energy efficiency. According to the International Organization for Standardization, we can achieve significant savings in energy costs and carbon by making some minor adjustments to the buildings we inhabit.

The same report states that energy demand is projected to rise by 50% by the year 2050. If we do not care enough to make a change, our cities will be stuck with inefficient sources of energy. Here are seven successful approaches that cities could implement –

1. The Codes and Standards Any Building Should Expect
Building efficiency standards should be applied for any construction type. By definition, these codes will establish a minimum level of resource efficiency. These standards should be developed within larger city policies, since they save an incredibly high amount of overall city energy.

According to a study conducted by the World Resources Institute, three types of efficient codes could be carried through: descriptive, performance-based, and trade-offs. Each one of these types should be evaluated and considered thoroughly before implementation.

After a national government has chosen the proper code type that suits the country, local authorities must soon adapt and enforce them. The best way to implement such codes is constant supervision and appropriate incentive reminders.

2. Setting Targets
To function properly, any new code or standard must be followed by clear goals or targets. When citizens’ interests align, there is a higher chance that positive changes will occur. Setting S.M.A.R.T. goals are highly effective and very easy to implement.

When important objectives are specific, they can under no circumstances be altered by any outside factors. But this is not enough – they should also be measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound. Failing to respect these conditions when setting targets could lead to a non-sustainable environment, even when constant efforts are made.

Goals can be validated at many levels, including jurisdictional, institutional, or building. The public-sector targets will differ from the private-sector ones; the latter are mostly used in U.S. cities. Before engaging in making a change, here are some questions to consider.
•    What problems will the goal solve? Is the change targeted at public or private buildings?
•    Will the target be voluntary or mandatory? What are the pros and cons of each?
•    What method of quantification will be used?
•    What guiding marks will be used (base year, reporting interval, timeframe)?
•    Are the goals clearly explained?
•    How will the progress be tracked?

The last subpoint leads us to our third point, measuring and tracking performance.

3. Providing the Necessary Information    
Giving authorities, owners, and tenants access to the right resources can be of significant effect. When people are convinced that their actions will lead to a positive change, they try their best to accomplish goals.

“We should offer people transparent information to maximize their performance,” recommends Genny Smith, CEO at Superior Papers. “And the best way to do this is by sharing statistics with the wide public and making them understand the necessity of improving our performance,” ends Smith.

An excellent method to share energy consumption info is distributing EPCs (Energy Performance Certificates) that can later be transformed accordingly into smart real-estate decisions.

4. Implementing Economic Incentives
The costs of implementing goals can get quite high, that’s why we must implement economic incentives to overcome this financial barrier. Giving confidence to investors and owners can only be accomplished by showing them that efficient solutions come with excellent outcomes.

Thus, grants, bonds, mortgage financings, tax incentives, rebates, or credit lines should all be considered. They will at least help cope with the upfront expenses.

5. Initiating Betterment
To set an example in the community, governments should initiate various projects and policy packages. In an interview with Best Essays, Governor Yosef Rooney admitted that,

“We need to set an example to the community. If we don’t lead properly, how can we demand otherwise? To raise awareness of our energy deficiency problems and generate a wider public interest, we the Government must start implementing policies within the public sector, meaning, within our buildings.”

“We should design our buildings so that they use strictly energy-efficient appliances, lighting, and overall equipment,” continues Tobias Middleton, UN Ambassador.

6. Proper Technical Training
Another critical key solution is implementing technical education programs. They will develop the necessary skills within citizens to further perform and enact the latest energy conversation patterns.

“We need efficient workers that understand the problems we are facing today,” writes Dr. Dana Humphrey, former CEO at Brill Assignment and Urban Positive co-founder. Policies, grants, and financial incentives are not enough to effectively attain energy savings. The local government should also support workers’ training and loan guarantees, since this is what will attract private investors.

7. Partnering Up with Utilities
Local governments should expand their outreach to various alliances and utilities. “Some of the latter have a program in which individual customers can repay investments in efficiency through their utility bills,” according to the same report at WRI. The information will be of great help to city planners who are interested in setting long-lasting energy-efficiency goals.

Wrapping Up
To up the ante on building efficiency and helping our Planet grow green, cities should implement standard codes explained thoroughly to the broad public, set proper targets, provide the necessary information for their citizens and owners, implement economic incentives for investors, lead by example, offer people proper technical training, and last but not least, partner up with utilities and various alliances.