WRI worked with officials in Bogotá, Colombia, and Mérida, Mexico, to adapt and adopt national-level guidance on energy-efficient buildings, creating effective local regulations that now serve as models for other cities.

The Challenge

Buildings are a prime candidate for improving energy efficiency: buildings account for one-third of global energy use and a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions—and improving efficiency of buildings saves money. Yet the lack of appropriate policies, regulations and enforcement pose significant challenges, even when cities have access to technology and funding. In Colombia and Mexico, for example, national guidelines on building efficiency were ineffective because cities and towns lacked the means to translate these into practical regulations.

WRI’s Role

The WRI report, Accelerating Building Efficiency, Eight Actions for Urban Leaders_, provided a framework for city action. The Building Efficiency Accelerator (BEA), a WRI-led public-private collaboration, provides technical assistance and peer-learning platforms for dozens of cities to improve building efficiency.

In Mexico, WRI trained officials in Mérida on how to use the Greenhouse Gas Protocol and conducted an analysis that showed potential savings from building efficiency regulations. WRI also convened working groups and established a high-level steering committee to oversee the process of adapting and adopting national building efficiency guidance into local regulations, bringing together key actors from government, industry, civil society and academia.

In Colombia, through the BEA and in collaboration with the Colombia Green Building Council, WRI advocated for the adoption of an energy-efficient building code in Bogotá and brought in additional expertise to advise on adapting the national guidelines into city policy. WRI and partners worked with Bogotá and the national government to improve the national guidance on sustainable buildings, which city officials had found difficult to translate into local regulation.

The Outcome

In 2018, Bogotá and Mérida became the first cities in their countries to adapt and adopt national guidance into mandatory regulations, providing financial benefits to building owners and operators by reducing energy and water consumption. City residents will benefit from reduced air pollution and the creation of new green jobs. Colombia and Mexico will be able to report additional progress on their commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. As Bogotá and Mérida are both rapidly-growing cities, the use of energy-efficient building practices will also avoid locking in long-lived, carbon intensive infrastructure. This precedent shows the way for other cities to do the same. City participation in the BEA has grown rapidly in both countries, and in both countries local BEA partners are now working to replicate this process and outcome for other cities.