Housing, Buildings & Development

Housing and buildings can be designed to maximize energy efficiency and reduce the consumption of electricity and natural gas. Emissions come from residential, commercial, and industrial buildings consuming electricity from nonrenewable sources and burning fossil fuels. Designing new buildings and retrofitting existing buildings to maximize efficiency and use of renewable energy sources reduces emissions, saves money, and increases our resilience to changing climate conditions.

Through the CAAP process, Columbia identified three strategic goals for Housing, Buildings & Development:

        1. Increase energy efficiency in residential, commercial and municipal buildings.
        2. Reduce fossil fuel use.
        3. Enhance building resilience.

An image highlighting several categories under "Built Environment."


Climate Change & Our Built Environment

Protecting our Buildings

As the climate continues to change, Columbia communities are likely to face vulnerabilities related to their built environment, especially housing. Rising temperatures and heavier rains will affect homeowners by creating higher energy costs and potential property damage. Learn more about what we can expect. For more information on what our City is doing to increase our resilience visit our CAAP.


Climate Change & Our Built Environment

Warmer Temperatures

Climate change is expected to increase air temperatures in Columbia, with summertime highs reaching nearly 104°F, nightly lows staying above 80°F, and 50 days a year over 95 degrees by 2080. Asphalt and other features in the urban environment will only make temperatures warmer in the city due to the urban heat island effect. All this will increase demand for air conditioning, raising energy costs, which will be especially difficult for lower income households to bear. The City already provides energy efficiency incentives with loans and rebates to residential and commercial customers. Going forward, natural shading and passive cooling design, in addition to more insulation and efficient AC equipment, could provide relief from the heat.



Climate Change & Our Built Environment


Columbia is expected to have more frequent heavy rainfall events in the future, which will increase the risk of local flooding to buildings, especially those located in flood zones. Thirty residential structures are located in the flood plain, but about 300 more are in areas at risk of flooding during bigger events that have historically happened every 100 years. The City currently runs a buyout program for homes in the flood plains, as well as home repair and rehabilitation funds to low- and moderate-income families.


Energy Efficient Buildings

Energy Use in Our Buildings

The electricity we use in homes and buildings throughout Columbia is the largest source of energy use and GHG emissions. While Columbia Water & Light already have a number of programs to support energy efficiency in our buildings, the City has placed a high priority in creating new incentives and financing mechanisms to ensure everyone in the community has access to resources to reduce energy use through the CAAP.

Energy from different sources is measured in different ways—electricity is measured in kWh, natural gas in therms, oil in gallons. We can convert these different measures into a common measure—million British Thermal Units (MMBTU)—to better understand and compare total energy use.
MMBTUMillion British Thermal Units


Energy Efficient Buildings

Breaking It Down

Knowing how much energy is used in different parts of the community helps us to know where the biggest opportunities to make improvements are. The commercial energy sector is our largest consumer of energy. The City of Columbia Electric Utility offers many programs to help commercial and residential customers improve their energy efficiency. Solar rebate programs are also available for both residential and commercial customers. 

Learn more at https://www.como.gov/utilities/columbia-power-partners/


Energy Efficient Buildings

Energy Reduction Goals

The City of Columbia has set an energy reduction goal for its own facilities—a 20% reduction by 2025. Achieving this ambitious short term goal will help provide examples for other community partners as they make their own energy use reductions. 

Benchmarking, the process of measuring the amount of electricity and natural gas used in our buildings, is a critical first step in lowering energy intensity. The City of Columbia has benchmarked and monitored energy usage across 36 of our municipal facilities. All municipal buildings are scheduled to be benchmarked by June 1st, 2023. 

In all municipal buildings, energy usage has decreased by 4% since 2015. Several new facilities have been added during this time. 

Green & Resilient Buildings

Green Buildings

Green building practices are healthier and more resource-efficient models of construction, renovation, operation, maintenance and demolition. Two common certification programs are the US Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy & Design (LEED) and the US Department of Energy's EnergyStar ratings. Columbia has 53 buildings that are either LEED or Energy Star certified since 2008. 

There are different standards and levels for “green” buildings. This metric looks at the total for all types of green buildings, including EnergyStar and the US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).
#Number of Green Buildings


What are the Lynn Street Cottages?

The City of Columbia’s Housing Programs Division has been working alongside neighborhood and community members to redevelop the block of Garth, Sexton, Oak, and Lynn with affordable housing and improved infrastructure. The project includes the development of eight affordable owner-occupied homes with near net-zero energy usage design and universal design features. The Lynn Cottages development also coincided with the City’s creation of the Columbia Community Land Trust, which will ensure the homes remain affordable, owner-occupied, and well-maintained for generations to come.

Watch the Video

Housing, Buildings & Development

Be Part of the Solution!

There are a number of programs to support Columbia in our effort to reduce energy use.

Reduce energy use with Columbia Water & Light's rebates and loans.
Trade in your old A/C for a new, energy efficient one.