Do You Live in One of the Energy Efficient Cities?

NEW YORK (MainStreet)—Managing the amount of energy used in office buildings is becoming easier to monitor with innovative technology that can give updates as often as every 15 minutes.

Programs in cities throughout the U.S. are working to create more sustainable offices by reducing the amount of energy being consumed and to spur more efforts by residents.

In 2011, Charlotte, N.C. started an effort to be more sustainable. Using new data and software, office managers can monitor the water, air and waste being used in office buildings with real-time data. The goal is to reduce the energy use in Charlotte's uptown by 20% over five years by partnering with Duke Energy, Cisco Systems and Verizon involving a network of 70 buildings.

By accessing a digital grid infrastructure, owners and managers of the buildings can see the energy usage. Electronic communication kiosks are installed in the lobbies of buildings and give information on how to lower the amount of energy being used.

"The energy program helps lower the cost of doing business by bringing down energy costs for companies in the urban core and engaging with thousands of individuals," said Tom Shircliff, chairman of the Envision Charlotte board of directors.

The city of San Jose, Calif. and WattzOn, a site for home energy assessments, started a Green Energy Match program in 2012 to help residents save energy and money. It is estimated that residents can save an average of $20 to $45 each month from making simple changes and can track their usage from the web or their smartphones.

"A greener economy is a stronger economy," said Martha Amram, CEO of WattzOn. "When residents stop sending dollars outside the city boundaries to the regional utility, they shift spending to local retail since almost all shopping is done within ten miles of home."