The Foothills Learning Center goes solar. City of Boise photo.

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It’s not every day that a government entity in Idaho does something good for the air we breathe, water we drink, and land we love. The city of Boise’s new report on creating a “lasting, innovative, and vibrant” (LIV) city sets an ambitious and achievable vision to grow our clean energy future. Here is the scoop on the clean energy portion of the report.

Leading the Way on Climate Protection

Cities and buildings play an important role in air quality and climate. The energy consumed to light, heat and cool buildings accounts for up to half of the carbon pollution in America. By ramping up energy efficiency and generating power on site, buildings are more comfortable, better workplaces, and economical for businesses-all while cutting carbon pollution.

Cities can lead the way to a cleaner future by ensuring better buildings for everyone. Boise’s  LIV initiative is a perfect example. First, the city set goals to reduce energy use in its existing buildings by 50% and requires new buildings to be “net-zero,” that is, they produce as much energy on site as they use. The plan includes a smart process for prioritizing capital investments and influencing the behavior of occupants.

Second, the city will help other building owners adopt similar goals and practices. As the city adopts practices-like setting a baseline of current energy use and a trajectory downward-other building owners can learn from this leadership.

The LIV initiative also seeks to adopt a communitywide renewable energy plan. Streetlights will change to ultra-efficient LED bulbs. And new building codes will ensure a level playing field for everyone. By working together with citizens and businesses across the city, we can greatly reduce air pollution and protect our climate.

A Win for Water

One of the factors affected the most by a changing climate is our precious water. Hotter, drier summers will stress the Boise River further. There is a feedback cycle here too-pumping, treating and delivering drinking water, along with removing and treating wastewater, take a lot of energy. The LIV initiative sets goals to reduce water consumption and the energy used to treat water.

Practices like planting low-water landscaping, using low-flow water fixtures and setting citywide water use goals will ensure that we use our precious water wisely. Water is not a resource to waste, and we can benefit from innovative ideas like harvesting useable nutrients from wastewater and implementing the city’s cutting-edge water treatment plans.

More to Come

This information is a small sample of the complete LIV initiative. Other portions cover air quality, recycling and transportation. The Central Addition in downtown will become a living laboratory for spreading the word across Boise. The Vista area is the first of the Energize our Neighborhood effort. These efforts promote a lasting environment that fosters innovative enterprises to grow our economy and vibrant arts and education programs, making Boise a great place to live.

ICL is engaged in the LIV initative to make sure that Boise lives up to its full potential. And we will encourage other cities to adopt their own sustainability practices.