Energy efficiency challenge programs are city-led voluntary initiatives that ask representatives of private sector buildings to make a public commitment to reduce energy waste within a defined time frame. Challenge programs allow cities to make leading real estate companies aware that energy efficiency is an important city priority and recognize those firms that take significant action to reduce their buildings’ consumption of energy. Successful programs can result in significant energy savings and greenhouse gas reductions, and can also give city governments the opportunity to engage with building owners on energy efficiency topics in a direct and personal way. This guide outlines for city staff how to effectively establish and manage an energy efficiency challenge program in your jurisdiction.

This resource is part of the City Energy Project Resource Library. Launched in 2019, the library is the culmination of 6+ years of work on the ground in 20 U.S. cities to reduce energy use in large buildings. The City Energy Project is a joint project of IMT and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). For more information, visit

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