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Last week, mayors from around the nation visited Washington, D.C., for the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ annual winter meeting. During a White House briefing, I had the chance to meet with 30 mayors who are committed to tackling today’s energy and climate challenges.

Cities are on the frontlines of America’s energy revolution. Cities are also experiencing the increasingly severe impacts of climate change first hand. By increasing efficiency in our municipalities, we are able to reduce emissions and save money while greening the most populated regions of our nation.

Together, we had a lively conversation on ways the federal government is working with cities to address these challenges. During the discussion, we launched a new initiative --the Presidential Challenge for Advanced Outdoor Lighting -- that works with mayors to upgrade 1.5 million street, parking lot and park lights to high performance, low energy lighting in the next two years through the Department of Energy’s (DOE) High Performance Outdoor Lighting Accelerator.

Outdoor lighting consumes an enormous amount of energy in the United States. It can account for up to 60 percent of a city’s electric utility bill and, in total, costs about $10 billion annually. Outdoor lighting is vital to the nation’s communities and cities -- after all, it’s what makes it possible for New York to be the city that never sleeps. The exciting news is that we have the technologies ready today to keep our streets, parking lots and parks lit using less energy and costing less money. We just have to deploy them.

That’s why DOE’s High Performance Outdoor Lighting Accelerator is working with mayors to figure out how best to light their cities using the latest technologies.

Through DOE, the Presidential Challenge for Advanced Outdoor Lighting will work with municipalities across the nation to accelerate the adoption and use of high-efficiency outdoor lighting, driving carbon pollution reductions in communities across the nation.

The Accelerator will work with cities to:

  • Demonstrate best practice approaches to system-wide lighting upgrades
  • Provide tools and guidance to address technical issues that arise
  • Document and share best practices on overcoming technical, regulatory and financial barriers
  • Develop recommendations for post-Accelerator next steps

Learn more about how your city can benefit from working with the Department of Energy to upgrade outdoor lighting by reading the High Performance Outdoor Lighting Accelerator Fact Sheet and Partnership Agreement.

The High Performance Outdoor Lighting Accelerator is one of five Better Buildings Accelerators created through the President’s Climate Action Plan. All five are designed to help tackle barriers standing in the way of investments in greater energy efficiency. The other four Accelerators are focused on increasing energy efficiency in data centers, demonstrating the benefits of providing building energy use data to owners, expanding the use of Energy Savings Performance Contracts, and demonstrating cost savings from implementing Industrial Superior Energy Performance certifications enterprise-wide.

Check out a White House blog post on the Presidential Challenge for Advanced Outdoor Lighting here.