Duke Energy, Cisco and Charlotte Center City Partners announce the creation of Envision: Charlotte, a first-of-its-kind public-private collaboration to make commercial buildings in Charlotte, North Carolina's urban core more energy efficient.

A primary focus of Envision: Charlotte is to reduce energy that is wasted in commercial buildings within Charlotte's 1.94-sq mile (5-sq km) I-277 inner-belt loop by using innovative technologies to encourage energy efficiency and changes in consumer behavior. The initiative will seek to partner with the owners of approximately 60 commercial buildings who control more than 15 million sq ft (1.4 million sq m) within the inner-loop. To date, business and local government leaders controlling more than 12 million sq ft (1.1 million sq m) of space are considering participating.

The initiative will deploy a combination of digital smart grid and building automation technologies, as well as unique energy tracking tools, to provide building owners and office workers with near-real-time information about the buildings' collective energy use. It also will suggest specific actions office workers can take to reduce energy consumption.

The goal of the initiative is to reduce energy use by up to 20% and avoid approximately 220,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases by 2016. Another key objective of Envision: Charlotte is to build a public-private approach to energy efficiency that can be replicated in commercial buildings in cities across America.

Commercial building owners can participate in the initiative at no cost. The energy saved is expected to eventually more than offset Duke Energy and Cisco's estimated investment of $5.3 million to deploy the initiative, 80% of which will come from Duke Energy and 20% from Cisco. Duke Energy and Cisco will team up with Charlotte Center City Partners and the city of Charlotte to encourage commercial building owners in uptown Charlotte to participate in Envision: Charlotte.

According to the 2010 census, Charlotte has a population of more than 750,000, making it the 18th largest city in the United States. The city's high concentration of commercial office buildings also facilitates smart grid connectivity and consumer education on ways to reduce energy that is wasted in commercial buildings.

The initiative builds on the Charlotte region's economic development “energy capital USA” initiative that was announced in April 2009. Today, the region is home to more than 175 energy companies, employing more than 13,000 people.

For more information, visit www.EnvisionCharlotte.com