Duke Energy, Cisco and Charlotte Center City Partners have joined forces to create Envision: Charlotte, a public-private collaboration to make commercial buildings in Charlotte's urban core more energy efficient.

Envision: Charlotte aims to reduce energy that is wasted in commercial buildings within Charlotte’s inner-belt loop by up to 20% and avoid approximately 220,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases by 2016.

Duke Energy and Cisco will team up with Charlotte Center City Partners and the city of Charlotte to collaborate with the owners of tools at 60 commercial buildings within the city who approximately control more than 15 million square feet.

The initiative plans to meet its goal by deploying a combination of digital smart grid and building automation technologies and energy tracking to provide building owners and office workers with information about the buildings’ collective energy use.

Commercial building owners can participate for free in the initiative, which is expected to result in enough energy savings to eventually more than offset Duke Energy and Cisco’s estimated investment of $5.3m to deploy the initiative.

Duke Energy chairman and CEO Jim Rogers said that Charlotte’s uptown within the I-277 loop is a highly concentrated urban area that provides an excellent site to demonstrate what is possible with advanced energy efficiency and smart grid technologies.