Local Government Spotlight: Virginia Beach, Virginia
A Collaborative Approach to the Development of an Energy-Saving Strategy
In response to rising utility expenditures, Virginia Beach, Virginia, set a goal to reduce electricity use in city buildings by 10% from a 2007–2008 Fiscal Year baseline by 2013. To meet this goal, the city established a Joint Energy Committee (JEC) in 2008 to identify, assess, and implement energy-related activities. The JEC was chaired by the deputy city manager and comprised representatives from city departments, public schools, and its major electric utility, Dominion Virginia Power.
Goal: Reduce electricity use in city buildings by 10% from a 2007–2008 Fiscal Year baseline by 2013.
Barrier: Lack of process, team, or unified organizational plan to manage data.
Solution: Established the JEC in 2008 to identify, assess, and implement energy-related activities.
Outcome: In 5 years, the city reduced its cumulative electricity consumption in city buildings by 15% and saved an estimated $1 million in utility costs.
Virginia Beach is the most populous city in Virginia with just over 450,000 residents. Soaring utility expenditures, which reached a peak of approximately $22.8 million in 2012, representing an 18% increase and $4 million in additional utility costs since Fiscal Year 2010, prompted the city to get a better handle on its utility expenditures.
Virginia Beach established the JEC in 2008 to identify, assess, and implement energy-related activities. The JEC was chaired by the deputy city manager and comprised of representatives from city departments, public schools, and its major electric utility, Dominion Virginia Power.
In 2008, the JEC set a goal to reduce electricity use in city buildings by 10% from a 2007-2008 Fiscal Year baseline by 2013. To help the city achieve these savings, the JEC decided to increase the efficiency of the city's bill processing and payment system by automating bill processing.
To execute the plan, the JEC established a project team consisting of members of the energy office and the finance, public works, and information technology (IT) departments. The energy manager was responsible for overseeing the transition to electronic invoicing via electronic data interchange from project initiation through implementation. Because the solution involved development of new IT interfaces with outside vendors, the project required close collaboration between key city staff and outside vendors to integrate the new system and meet the city's project specifications.
Stakeholder Roles and Responsibilities
- The energy manager led the project from initiation through implementation.
- The procurement buyer negotiated energy software procurements.
- IT staff managed the project and analysis, developed the interface specifications and the interface to the financial application, and deployed the software on the city's network.
- The vendors implemented and customized the software to meet the city's specifications.
- The finance lead and staff in accounts payable tested user acceptance during the final phases of the project.
The Finance Department was a critical partner in this initiative. The team included a financial analyst that successfully implemented the integration of the new software. This analyst also led the testing team that identified and fixed many "bugs" before the system went live.
Key Success Factors
- City-wide policy to improve operations through electronic payment processing
- Participation of key utility partner in the JEC
- Involvement of leadership and key partners from the early stages of strategy development (e.g., finance, IT, and public works' building maintenance)
- Close collaboration with participating departments to understand programmatic needs and test new software solution
In 5 years, Virginia Beach reduced its cumulative electricity consumption in city buildings by 15% and saved an estimated $1 million in utility costs.
Note: The information in this case study is based on primary research conducted in 2014. Learn more about the guide's research and development.
To learn more about how to identify and engage key stakeholders to create an energy data management program that aligns with your organizational goals, see Step 2.
Herrick, Lori, Elise Anderson, and Sam Brooks. "Best Practices in Streamlining Access to Energy Data." Presented at the Better Buildings Summit, Washington, D.C., May 9, 2014.
Virginia Beach. 2013. A Community Plan for a Sustainable Future. Virginia Beach, VA: Virginia Beach Environment and Sustainability Office.