Many communities in Wyoming and in the nation are making an effort to incorporate renewable energy and energy efficiency into their community. Other communities that wish to do the same can benefit from modeling their own efforts after other communities. One such community is Jackson, Wyoming. Also included on this page is a step-by-step guide for communities and information about funds available for implementing renewable energy and energy efficiency measures. This information can also be found on the Incentives page.
Step-by-step Guide for Communities
The process of changing energy use patterns on a community scale can be daunting. We’ve broken down information from various agencies and from the experiences of other communities into a manageable list of steps interested communities should take, to provide them with a starting point for their efforts.
1. Community Assessment
Before communities can take steps toward energy efficiency, they should conduct an assessment of the current conditions in their community. This should include understanding the community’s current use rate and source of energy; demographics, such as median household incomes and home characteristics; current leadership and leadership opportunities at the municipal and county level, and from private interested parties; the geography of the community, including its boundaries, natural features and setting, current and future development patterns and plans, and existing infrastructure; and the interplay between the community’s social, economic, and environmental values.
2. Identify Trends and Consider the Future of the Community
Most counties engage in some form of a planning process. Check with your county planning and zoning commission or county commissioners (contact information for county officials can be found in Wyoming’s state government directory to see what planning and zoning regulations already exist. Cooperation between city and county entities is essential. After reviewing existing planning documents, community leaders should consider other factors that will affect their implementation of community-wide energy efficiency measures, such as:
- environmental concerns
- natural resource use and availability
- patterns of land use
- economic growth by industry.
3. Identify Community Goals
It is important to assess what the community values and how those values should translate into the future of the community. At this point in the process, many communities have enlisted the help of a neutral third party to conduct a community-wide values assessment. The values articulated in the assessment can help community leaders to formulate many different future scenarios to guide them in implementing energy efficiency and renewable energy measures. It is critical that this assessment includes as many community participants as possible. The values assessment is also an opportunity for interested citizens to get more involved in the process. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency offers some tips for community involvement.
As communities move into implementing their plan, they should be ensuring that they continue to engage and involve the public in their efforts, have secure and sustainable funding sources, and are undertaking each project on a manageable scale. Communities may find it useful to start with key projects. Depending on the community’s specific goals, this might be restoring and retrofitting buildings by geographical divisions, starting with retrofits to government or other public buildings or infrastructure, starting with projects that give the highest returns on investments, etc.
Enterprise Green Communities
Enterprise Green Communities is an organization that assists communities in building affordable, energy and cost efficient, and healthy homes. The organization provides communities with funding opportunities and expertise in home building and rehabilitation, and assists state and local governments in enabling sustainable development in their communities. Visit Enterprise Green Communities for more information.
- Carbon Calculator: Features three free carbon calculators — for conferences and meetings; for corporations and groups; and for individuals and families.
- Certification: Provides eligibility and process information on Green Communities’ certification of green affordable housing developments.
- Grants: Green Communities offers a Green Design Charrettes Grant for up to $5,000.00 to assist in the planning of a green housing development. Green Communities also offers a Sustainability Training Grant for up to $5,000.00 to fund the production and distribution of a post-construction operations and maintenance manual, and for training for post-construction operations and maintenance.
- Loans: Predevelopment Loans are available for, “typical costs related to affordable housing development prior to closing construction financing: architectural, civil engineering and landscape design fees, electrical and mechanical engineering fees, interior design fees, surveys, environmental phase one and follow-up environmental impact studies, traffic studies, erosion control plans, zoning work, legal and title fees, appraisal fees, loan fees, application fees for debt, equity and subsidy financing and the costs of engaging a green design specialist. Acquisition Loans are available for, “typical costs related to the acquisition of land or buildings intended to be developed as affordable homeownership or rental housing: earnest money deposits or option payments, land or building acquisition costs, title, closing and legal costs related to acquisition closing.
- Going Green: Provides information on Green Communities’ carbon offset fund, and presents research and fact sheets on the affordability and health benefits of green building.
- Green Criteria: Provides a checklist and other information for their “green” classification. It includes detailed information about aspects of design, development and operations, such as:
- Integrated Design
- Site, Location and Neighborhood Fabric
- Site Improvements
- Water Conservation
- Energy Efficiency
- Materials Beneficial to the Environment
- Healthy Living Environment
- Operations and Maintenance
- Neighborhood Stabilization: Provides information for the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP), which helps state and local governments to purchase and redevelop foreclosed and abandoned properties.
- Transit-Oriented Development
- Other Information Resources
Jackson, Wyoming launched its Energy Sustainability Project (JHESP) in 2009 after the honorable James Wolfensohn, former President of the World Bank, challenged the community to achieve energy sustainability. The JHESP’s mission statement is, [pull_quote_left]“to make Jackson Hole a leader in energy efficiency and energy innovation; to transform the community into a model for sustainability, cost savings, and conservation…”[/pull_quote_left]“to make Jackson Hole a leader in energy efficiency and energy innovation; to transform the community into a model for sustainability, cost savings, and conservation; to provide outreach and education; and to provide creative investment opportunities to realize the goals of energy independence for future generations” (Energy Sustainability Project, Jackson Hole). After articulating a mission statement, the JHESP specified some additional target goals.
JHESP Target Goals (from Energy Sustainability Project, Jackson Hole)
- Mitigate the additional 30 megawatts of energy needed to meet Jackson Hole’s load growth for the next 20 years by 33% through resource conservation;
- Develop local renewable energy options that generate 2 megawatts of additional energy over the next 20 years;
- Achieve an 80% penetration rate for energy efficiency building retrofits in each community district outlined by the project
- Define efficiency and renewable energy options with a positive return on investment for low cost financing that allow for variable energy and technology prices;
- Use energy use and emissions inventory data and the JHESP partnership to support the wide array of organizations already working on reducing emissions from transportation;
- Encourage and advocate for adoption of building codes requiring maximum energy efficiency for future buildings and infrastructure.
While each community should tailor their targets to their own needs and goals, the Jackson Hole community’s targets listed above provide a sense of what sort of goals communities can shape for themselves.