Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of City and Regional Planning


City and Regional Planning


Michael Boswell


As energy cost and climate change become increasingly prevalent concerns in the planning world, more and more jurisdictions are creating energy efficiency and climate action plans. As of 2011, over 120 cities and counties around the United States had already completed climate action plans (Boswell, Greve, & Seale, 2012, p. 24). A major factor in reducing energy use, and subsequently greenhouse gas emissions, is in making buildings more energy efficient. According to the EPA, buildings account for 36 percent of overall energy use in the United States (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2013).

Although many of these plans set target energy reduction levels for buildings, the process for actually meeting these goal levels is often disorganized, cost-prohibited, and behind schedule. In order to meet energy reduction goals, a jurisdiction must first establish a system for tracking and monitoring energy use, pinpointing areas in needs of improvements, and sharing this information with decision makers. Energy Star’s Portfolio Manager benchmarking system provides a tool for public workers and building managers to meet these needs.

The County of San Luis Obispo’s climate action and energy reduction plan, titled the EnergyWise Plan (2011), sets a goal for the County’s municipal buildings to reduce their energy use by 20 percent from 2006 levels by the year 2020 (pg. 171). This report uses the Portfolio Manager Tool to analyze the current energy use of the County’s municipal buildings, pinpointing the areas most in need of further examination in order to meet the EnergyWise Plan’s goal. The report concludes with an audit and retrofit implementation plan for the County’s top energy users, as well as a set of recommendations to improve the County’s overall energy use which include:

1. Organization and collaboration between departments should be encouraged, in order to more efficiently share data.

2. Yearly reports should be produced as a measure of progress towards meeting 2020 reduction levels.

3. Efforts should be focused on audits and retrofits of the twelve selected buildings first, followed by analysis and audits in the remaining County buildings.

4. The Public Protection Department’s energy use levels should be monitored and improved when feasible.

5. Those buildings that are Energy Star qualified should apply for certification.

6. The County should continue to seek funding sources for implementing audits and retrofits.