A protracted-standing federal effort to decarbonize transportation proves how superior applied sciences could make significant, real-world impacts by intertwining nationwide targets and initiatives with native, community-based actions.
The modern mannequin constructed over the previous 30 years by the Clear Cities Coalition Community demonstrates how federal applications can efficiently deploy new applied sciences by way of long-term, multidirectional stakeholder engagement. Clear Cities coalitions implement different gasoline and superior transportation initiatives all through america. A brand new Nationwide Renewable Vitality Laboratory (NREL) report, Clear Cities: A Mannequin of Collaborative Expertise Innovation Constructed Over 30 Years, tells the story of Clear Cities, documenting how and why the success of Clear Cities can function a mannequin for different federal efforts.
Clear Cities is a collaboration of greater than 75 coalitions protecting almost each state and 85% of the U.S. inhabitants. Coalitions increase the nation’s financial vitality, vitality safety, and high quality of life by advancing the deployment of reasonably priced, environment friendly, and clear transportation fuels and applied sciences. Because the know-how deployment arm of the U.S. Division of Vitality’s (DOE’s) Car Applied sciences Workplace, Clear Cities operates inside a framework of collaborative governance and leverages experience from federal businesses, nationwide laboratories — together with NREL — and coalitions. Coalitions present assets and technical steering to native determination makers and fleets implementing different and renewable fuels, electrical autos, idle-reduction measures, gasoline financial system enhancements, new mobility decisions, and rising transportation applied sciences.
“Clear Cities has thrived for 30 years partially as a result of it’s so collaborative and leverages relationships amongst public, civic society, and personal sector entities on the native, state, and nationwide degree,” mentioned Patricia Romero-Lankao, a senior analysis scientist and interdisciplinary sociologist at NREL who co-authored the report. “These collaborations are extremely intensive whereas nonetheless preserving the autonomy of the person coalitions.”
Along with rigorous collaboration, the institutional construction of Clear Cities contributes to its long-term success by being steady but nimble, enabling steady adjustment and adaptation. Every coalition receives national-level assist however stays semi-autonomous and makes impartial strategic and programmatic selections in response to native wants and market shifts.
“Coalition employees are sometimes employed by and from the group they serve, in order that they have information of the native space and expertise with native transportation techniques,” Romero-Lankao mentioned. “This helps foster native belief, permitting coalitions to construct bridges between DOE, nationwide labs, and transportation stakeholders. Coalitions can join with networks and communities the place nationwide entities usually can not immediately have interaction.”
Constructing belief on the native degree creates a way of shared motivations and can assist overcome competing native and nationwide pursuits — a historic problem for national-level environmental efforts, based on the report. Federal coordination additionally enhances the capability of native stakeholders who in any other case would lack authority or entry to provoke the varieties of large-scale collaborations that generate widespread impression.
Clear Cities engages in broad coordination and leverages inside experience to advance high-level targets and techniques. Coalitions share native insights, knowledge, and experiences with nationwide laboratories and DOE to enhance nationwide knowledge units, assets, and technical response capabilities. NREL and different nationwide laboratories proactively developed this group of collaboration over a long time by creating alternatives for ongoing relationship constructing, together with a peer-to-peer mentorship program, in-person workshops for coalition employees, digital working teams, and outreach supplies that assist constant messaging amongst all coalitions.
Assist native determination makers and fleets implement different and renewable fuels, idle-reduction measures, gasoline financial system enhancements, new mobility decisions, and rising transportation applied sciences.
Foster multilateral, collaborative relationships with coalitions offering lab employees with community-based insights to assist guarantee their analysis addresses real-world transportation wants and priorities.
Join coalitions with specialists and goal problem-solving assist to assist stakeholders overcome obstacles to deploying superior transportation applied sciences and different fuels.
Stay versatile and adaptive to rising applied sciences, circumstances, and desires. Empower coalitions to customise approaches based mostly on native contexts and priorities for deploying new transportation applied sciences.
Present DOE with insights into on-the-ground stakeholder and group contexts to assist guarantee analysis and funding align with real-world wants.
Weave vitality and environmental justice concerns all through to develop clear transportation options that meet community-identified wants and enhance mobility fairness in traditionally underserved and overburdened communities.
“The extent of cooperation Clear Cities has created amongst nationwide labs and between coalitions is exclusive within the federal authorities,” mentioned Margo Melendez, a transportation know-how deployment group supervisor at NREL. “All of us share the identical targets and have a vital function to play, so we’re collaborating as an alternative of competing. This enables Clear Cities to make a a lot larger impression than if we have been all appearing on our personal.”
A challenge that raised consciousness and acceptance of electrical autos (EVs) throughout the Midwest exemplifies how this degree of collaboration enhances impression. Leaders from Clear Cities coalitions in seven states (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, and Wisconsin) joined forces to type Midwest Electrical Car Alternatives: Studying, eVents, Expertise (Midwest EVOLVE), which reached greater than 290,000 folks and helped change the narrative about EVs within the Midwest. Survey knowledge collected by the challenge companions confirmed that 75% of individuals reached by Midwest EVOLVE took the subsequent step of visiting a dealership or speaking to another person to think about EVs extra intently. Twenty-two p.c of respondents mentioned they finally bought or leased an EV.
“Clear Cities is required by federal legislation to be know-how and gasoline impartial, that means it could possibly’t advocate for a selected know-how or gasoline,” mentioned Wendy Dafoe, a Clear Cities senior challenge chief at NREL. “This helps coalitions stay related wherever they’re situated, as a result of they create options that make sense for his or her native communities.”
The collaborative framework, nimble construction, and iterative suggestions mechanisms reveal the facility of Clear Cities’ long-term collaborative governance for initiatives aiming to impression native communities at a nationwide scale. Clear Cities facilities the information, experience, and imaginative and prescient of native communities, making it a mannequin for methods to design community-centered options that align nationwide goals with native targets and visions.
The long-standing success of Clear Cities as a know-how deployment mannequin can also be being leveraged by newer federal efforts, together with Clear Vitality to Communities (C2C), a brand new DOE program that helps native governments, tribes, electrical utilities, and community-based organizations set and meet their clear vitality targets. C2C leverages the newest set of superior capabilities from nationwide laboratories, together with NREL, in addition to group engagement and peer-learning methods. Underneath NREL’s management, Clear Cities coalitions will assist communities taking part in C2C choices by leveraging the transportation know-how deployment and partnership-building experience throughout the Clear Cities Coalition Community.
Study extra about NREL’s sustainable transportation and mobility analysis. And join NREL’s quarterly transportation and mobility analysis e-newsletter, Sustainable Mobility Issues, to get the newest information.
Courtesy of NREL.
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