November 30, 2016 | IMT


Chris Potter, IMT, 202-525-2883, x311 /
Andrew Smyser, COSE, 216-592-2432 /

Program will help participants unlock energy and water savings in underserved small- and medium-sized buildings.

WASHINGTON, DC (November 30, 2016) Today, the Institute for Market Transformation (IMT) and the Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE) launched a three-year building energy efficiency program in collaboration with the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce (North Carolina) and the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce (Michigan). Focused on reaching more than 400 small business landlords and tenants, the program will guide small business chamber members in tapping into the full savings potential of energy efficiency strategies in their buildings. In doing so, the program will seek to develop an energy efficiency model to be replicated by local chambers across the U.S.

“Small businesses are usually not part of traditional trade associations that promote energy efficiency, and reaching these businesses requires finding a trusted resource that they participate in, such as chambers of commerce, and pairing educational resources and turnkey services that are a win-win for a business’s bottom line and the environment,” said Alexandra Harry, Senior Program Associate at IMT. “IMT and COSE’s deep expertise in collaborative and sustainable solutions such as green leasing, energy management, audits, and more will open the door to savings in a sector that has traditionally been difficult to reach.”

It’s imperative that small business landlords and tenants bake energy efficiency into their everyday operations, as energy is one of the top costs for small businesses, often ranking behind only labor and rent as a portion of annual expenses. Innovative chambers of commerce such as Chapel Hill-Carrboro and Traverse City provide strong conduits to small businesses and have a unique ability to arm both owners and tenants with the knowledge to save money and cut utility expenses with smart energy efficiency strategies for their spaces. With these partners, COSE and IMT’s new program will provide guidance to small business chamber members through education, technical assistance, and financial resources.

“Traditionally, energy efficiency is ‘invisible’ to small businesses and viewed as any other operating expense, losing sight of the many benefits that it could deliver to these businesses’ bottom line. Our role is to help landlords and tenants better understand how to treat energy efficiency as a resource,” said Nicole Stika, Vice President, Energy Services at the Greater Cleveland Partnership/Council of Smaller Enterprises. “The goal is to help them explore what’s under the hood, increase their awareness of the need and the opportunity for energy savings, and be their trusted energy manager when that staff person often doesn’t exist in a small business. We are motivating cash flow-positive investment and accelerating the adoption of energy efficiency through smart building solutions.”

The program is part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s initiative to scale up replicable, energy-efficient solutions for small and medium office buildings, apartments, stores, restaurants, and businesses. It builds upon a chamber-led, business-to-business model successfully piloted in Cleveland, Ohio, by IMT and COSE’s Cleveland Energy Aligned Leasing Program, which launched in 2014 and concluded early 2016.

That initial effort, supported by the Cleveland Economic Growth Fund with funding from the Kresge Foundation and Energy Foundation, engaged 60 local building owners and small business tenants representing more than 7 million square feet of space to provide energy audits, help businesses pursue win-win efficiency upgrades with good returns on investment such as LED lighting and ENERGY STAR air-conditioning units, and execute green or “energy-aligned” leases that fostered landlord-tenant collaboration to achieve better building energy performance and savings.  

Over the course of the three-year program in Chapel Hill-Carrboro and Traverse City, IMT, COSE, and its partner chambers will collaborate to identify energy leaders from the real estate community, convene workshops with real estate stakeholders, engage local contractors, and connect multiple energy service options to the local communities. In addition, the program will seek 5-10 additional chambers across the country for project participation in years two and beyond.

“The small/medium commercial sector and homebuilding industry are critical to the American economy, but under-resourced when it comes to energy efficiency,” said Kathleen Hogan, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency in a statement. “These efficiency solutions will allow us to build better, healthier homes and significantly improve our nation’s existing building stock, cutting energy bills for American consumers and businesses.”


About the Institute for Market Transformation (IMT)

The Institute for Market Transformation is a nonprofit organization that promotes energy efficiency in buildings in the United States and abroad. Through activities including technical and market research, policy and program development and deployment, and the promotion of best practices and knowledge exchange, IMT seeks to ignite greater investment in a better built environment. 

About the Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE)

For more than 40 years, the Council of Smaller Enterprises, the small business division of the Greater Cleveland Partnership, has protected and advocated for small businesses in the region. Through a deep understanding of small businesses, COSE provides the right solutions and resources to help its members succeed – every day – because small business growth and success is the organization’s priority.


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Program Area(s):

Real Estate

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