"Community buildings", or all the buildings besides municipal buildings (including residential and commercial buildings) are the largest single contributor to Carrboro's greenhouse gas footprint, with electricity consumption estimated to contribute about six times as much as natural gas consumption. The electricity supply continues to rely heavily on coal, along with nuclear energy. An emphasis on community buildings, and particularly on electrical consumption, is therefore an essential component of energy and climate protection planning in Carrboro. At a municipal level, however, the Town has limited legal authority and responsibility for the energy supply and efficiency of private buildings, and also limited capacity. The current best options identified for the Town to contribute include support for outreach and education and promoting a loan fund to small businesses.
From 2011-2013 and with support from federal stimulus funds, the Town pursued energy efficiency in buildings through the WISE (Worthwhile Investments Save Energy) program. WISE: provided loans for businesses through the Energy Efficiency Revolving Loan Fund (EERLF) and incentives for single-family homeowners and multifamily complexes; reached over 200 additional citizens through a grass roots energy efficiency outreach and education campaign designed by Clean Energy Durham; and trained home performance contractors to be Home Performance with Energy Star certified contractors. Now that the grant and program has ended, the Town has a new challenge: how to maintain the momentum created by the WISE program without the federal support. Recent steps to try to maintain momentum have included: engaging the community through a 2014 fall forum series; establishing a Task Force; and seeking new EERLF applications (see documents);