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Policy Analysis: City of Gainesville Energy Consumption

Presented to the Gainesville Energy Advisory Committee on 3/17/09

By Rudy Baum and Lance Legel


The original intent of this investigation, per GEAC stratagem, was to acquire data on energy
consumption by the City of Gainesville government. This data was to be contrasted with other U.S.
cities of similar population and budget sizes to expose weaknesses in Gainesville’s energy consumption
practices.

But it quickly became apparent that the planned techniques of this investigation would be insufficient to
draw substantial policy conclusions. An eclectic and inevitably incomplete amalgamation of energy
consumption data would not allow for the Gainesville Energy Advisory Committee to draw definitive
policy recommendations.

Primary investigator, Rudy Baum, decided to redirect this investigation in favor of producing a more
fruitful report for policy recommendations. The most practical energy advice came through email and
phone correspondence with Dave Richard and Dave Twos1.

Both communicated the same policy advice to GEAC: as leaders of an energy-efficient community, we
should continue to enhance our reputation worldwide by enacting innovative policies. Mr. Twos
cautioned against “outside-in policy making” to other U.S. cities, suggesting that we focus on developing
Gainesville policies that prove to other cities the benefits of environmentally focused energy. He
suggested that we present information on attending specific workshops, seminars, and conferences to
members of our city commission. These programs, he believed, would create the greatest impact on
our city commissioners to continue enhancement of Gainesville’s energy efficiency. The cumulative
result is that city commissioners are consistently provided with evidence of the importance, advantages,
and payoffs to being green.

Both experts emphasized the benefits their cities have reaped through consistent application of ICLEI
(International Council on Local Environmental Initiative) resources. Both recommended that Gainesville

1
(1) Dave Richard: Chairman, City of Boston Environmental and Energy Services Cabinet
(2) Dave Twos: Chairman, City of Portland Planning and Sustainability
– which is already a member of ICLEI – further utilize policy resources found on ICLEI’s website. Although
GEAC should prudently remain within its political domain of energy policy, this committee could expand
its policy implementing abilities by presenting to the Gainesville City Commission some of the more
creative, immediately successful, and inexpensive energy conservation policies found in other U.S. cities.

The City of Ashland in Oregon, for example, has implemented an inexpensive and energy-saving system
of bartering. Citizens can exchange materials with each other that they would otherwise inefficiently
dispose of. Through this subtle system, the energy required to produce new materials is conserved (and
the accumulating and processing of waste is decreased). Another unique energy policy example comes
from the City of Hamden in Connecticut. Hamden enacted legislation which prohibits vehicles from
being left in idle unless it is an emergency, conserving fuel. These are two of the many fast, inexpensive
policies found on ICLEI’s website2.

Mr. Twos communicated the potential and power of citizen “green teams” within city government.
Technically, GEAC could be considered such a green team. The Portland Peak Oil Task Force, Mr. Twos’
example of a green team, has established goals and techniques to cut Portland’s oil and natural gas
consumption in half by 20323. GEAC could emulate their style and substance to publish similarly
influential policy recommendations.

Mr. Twos also suggested that GEAC perform more specialized and strategically focused case studies -
rather than a broad energy consumption analysis. He recommended that GEAC target specific, isolated
energy consuming entities (e.g. Gainesville Police Department). Essentially, GEAC would perform a
quantitative analysis of all the systematic factors contributing to this single entity’s energy consumption.
New qualitative policies would then be suggested by GEAC to this singular entity. Such policies would
focus on means of limiting energy consumption – or possibly utilizing the Solar Feed-in tariff. Specific
mechanisms that we might focus on are: recycling, waste management, carbon reduction, and water
management. If our isolated policy recommendations are implemented, then the cost and energy
impact of these policies can be evaluated and published. GEAC would then be in a more dynamic
position to recommend such policies for generalization throughout the entire City of Gainesville .

-Rudy Baum is Chief of Investigations at The Dynamo for Environment & Humanity, Inc. and a UF
Aerospace Engineering sophomore.

-Lance Legel is President of The Dynamo for Environment & Humanity, Inc., a UF Physics & Astronomy
sophomore, and an appointed member of GEAC.

2
“ICLEI: Local Governments for Sustainability: Programs”
http://www.iclei.org/index.php?id=global-programs
3
“Peak Oil Task Force recommends Portland cut fossil fuel use 50% by 2032”
http://www.portlandonline.com/osd/index.cfm?a=150007&c=43295