The U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) established the Clean Cities Coalition Network in 1993 to boost the country’s economic vitality, energy security, and quality of life by advancing affordable, efficient, and clean transportation fuels and technologies – and the payoffs of that effort are increasingly evident.
Over the past 30 years, coalition activities have saved the equivalent of 13 billion gallons of gasoline and prevented more than 67 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions, the agency said.
Clean Cities coalitions have also helped place more than 1.3 million alternative fuel vehicles on U.S. roads and establish the charging and fueling infrastructure to serve this growing market. As a network, coalitions generate national impact by transforming transportation systems at the local level.
To make these impacts, coalitions draw on technical assistance, data, and tools created and maintained by several of DoE’s national laboratories, including the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).
Today, more than 75 Clean Cities coalitions cover nearly every state and 85 percent of the U.S. population and partner with 20,000 public and private stakeholders, the agency said. Coalitions act locally in urban, suburban, and rural communities throughout the nation to help businesses and consumers meet their climate, financial, and energy goals.
“Coalitions work in their communities to understand local priorities and offer resources and expertise backed by real-world experience,” said Mark Smith, DoE’s Vehicle Technologies Office technology integration program manager. “Clean Cities is transforming transportation by bringing the latest technologies to the streets and providing technical assistance with lasting results.”
Engaging with local organizations to co-develop projects can help maximize the benefits of clean transportation investments by aligning efforts with real, on-the-ground needs, the agency said.
With 30 years of experience fostering relationships with both Federal agencies and local partners, coalitions are uniquely positioned to build bridges between national priorities and local needs.
For example, NREL collaborated with Kansas City Regional Clean Cities to enhance the coalition’s work with community-based organizations and develop strategies for incorporating community engagement into their project planning processes.
With NREL’s guidance, the coalition gathered feedback from local organizations on how to best involve them in clean transportation projects, including compensating them for their time and keeping them informed of transportation efforts even if the organization was not directly involved.
“Through these conversations, the coalition now has better strategies for developing projects that are driven by community choices and needs,” said Kaylyn Bopp, a transportation project leader at NREL. “They also built stronger ties to community-based organizations that will greatly benefit future projects.”