Reframing Urban Sustainability Through Community Owned Energy Assets

By Drew Pierson

I recently reflected on the fact that “urban sustainability” is a term that typically narrows discussions about planning and development on environmental issues, in spite of related factors that may contribute to the general welfare of cities, such as jobs, income, and social well-being. Given that environmental problems often stem from economic processes and the social needs that drive them, one could assume that “urban sustainability” should extend its definition to include relationships among the three spheres of environment, economy, and society. As such, why isn’t “urban sustainability” more readily discussed within this framework and in a way that integrates goals from these three underlying areas at the onset? What opportunities exist that would allow entrepreneurs and planning practitioners to promote a more holistic version of “urban sustainability?” Continue reading


Community Financing to Solve the Landlord/Tenant Agency Problem

By Sachin Desai

In the discussion around the Rockville case, we determined that a key barrier to implementing energy efficiency projects is the landlord/tenant agency problem.  Namely, the landlord pays for the project, but the tenants, who pay for the electricity, get all the benefit.  Tenants don’t treat electricity costs the same as rent.  Ironically, to pay for the improvements the landlord would have to raise rent, scaring away tenants.  About 100M Americans live in rentals[1], and the global movement to cities will only generate more rentals.  We can’t afford to ignore renter-occupied spaces from the energy efficiency/clean energy movement. Continue reading