KC Chamber Boosts Area Economy Through Smart Energy

Through an innovative new smart energy program, the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce is doing what local chambers do best: convening stakeholders and partnering with industry and civic leaders to help its member companies save money and make the region more competitive.

Bringing together the Kansas City government, the real estate sector and the area’s leading utility, the Kansas City Chamber has launched the Kansas City Energy Initiative to boost the region’s economic competitiveness through smart energy practices.

At a recent news conference, Chamber President and CEO Jim Heeter said that thanks to the partnership with the city and the utility, “the Chamber will be able to provide the KC business community with the education and resources that will help them become energy efficient and positively affect their bottom line.”

“The cheapest form of energy is the energy you don’t use,” Heeter said, adding that the new initiative has drawn enthusiastic support from many chamber members from several different industries including healthcare, legal, retail, real estate, contractors and, naturally, the region’s largest utility.

As part of the new program, the utility is increasing the amount of money it will provide commercial customers who make energy efficiency improvements in their buildings from $50,000 to $250,000.

MC Realty Group, which manages 13 million square feet of office space in the region, said that using programs like those included in the chamber initiative, it has already slashed energy costs in about half of the space it manages. “The bottom line is it makes money,” a MC Realty vice president told reporters.

Speaking at the news conference, Kansas City Mayor Sly James welcomed the “collaborative spirit” behind the initiative and said that it once again demonstrates that Kansas City takes its “responsibility to increase energy efficiency seriously.”

Dennis Murphey, the city’s chief environmental officer, told reporters that by the year 2030 — if the city meets its goals during the next three years — building owners in the city will save about $50 million a year in energy costs, costs that they could pass onto their tenants. He said the city also is hoping for a 5 percent reduction in overall energy use.

An article in the Kansas City Star is here; a piece from the Kansas City Business Journal can be found here.