By focusing on both energy efficiency upgrades and changing individuals’ energy-savings habits, Charlotte was able to substantially reduce the energy used in the city’s largest commercial buildings.

In 2011, Charlotte, North Carolina, launched Envision Charlotte, a program with a goal to reduce large buildings’ energy use by 20% by the end of 2016 through behavioral change and equipment improvements. The city engaged a number of local stakeholders in the effort, partnering with the local utility, Duke Energy, to encourage individuals in office buildings to adopt energy-saving practices, like turning off lights, with creative games, while working closely with property managers and engineers to optimize systems for energy efficiencies. The program also lent the services of university students and professors, inviting them to audit buildings to identify the best options for equipment upgrades.

From its launch, Envision Charlotte was able to secure pledges from 61 of the city’s 64 major commercial buildings, with participating properties committing to reduce energy consumption by 20% over the course of the project. As part of this commitment, building owners also installed meters to gather data and track improvements from implemented projects. The initiatives were largely successful, yielding a 17.2% annual reduction in energy use compared to the 2010 base year.

51,000 metric tons of CO2 reduced in 2016 compared to 2010 levels because of Envision Charlotte projects

The challenge

To reduce energy use in the city’s commercial buildings sector, one of the most significant contributors to CO2 emissions in the North Carolina capital, Charlotte collaborated closely with local universities and the private sector to implement a series of measures to encourage energy-saving habits among the employees in large buildings and boost the uptake of energy efficient equipment, which resulted in a significant decrease in energy use.


Economic Participating buildings lowered their utility bills due to the decrease in energy use.

Environmental The city and Duke Energy are rolling out a mobile application to complement energy-saving measures with further education on water efficiency, waste, and transportation

Social Active engagement was a key component of Envision Charlotte; behavioral change initiatives alone accounted for a 6.2% reduction in energy use.

About Charlotte

Charlotte is the largest city in the state of North Carolina. Between 2004-2014, Charlotte was ranked as the country’s fastest growing city, with 888,000 new residents. Based on US Census data 2005-2015, it also tops 50 largest US cities as the millennial hub. Charlotte is home to the corporate headquarters of Bank of America and the east coast operations of Wells Fargo, which along with other financial institutions made it the second-largest banking center in the United States from 1995 to 2017 and the third-largest from 2017 to present.

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