America Saves! Energizing Main Street Small Businesses

Program Summary

America Saves! is helping cities and communities improve economic performance while protecting and preserving social and built fabric.  Led by the Preservation Green Lab of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the program is a national model for delivering energy efficiency to small businesses and buildings, driving cost savings and new investment in existing buildings.

Supported by a $2 million grant award from the U.S. Department of Energy, America Saves! is achieving preservation-based solutions by identifying obstacles that prevent cities from realizing the benefits of saving and improving existing buildings, and by guiding communities toward the benefits of immediate cost savings, carbon savings and local job creation resulting from energy efficiency.

Economic and Environmental Benefits

America Saves! is designed to reduce carbon emissions from the built environment while enhancing economic sustainability in Main Street communities, which have been largely overlooked in the energy efficiency marketplace. The program will help achieve these benefits by lowering energy costs, stimulating employment growth and improving the efficiency of small businesses through “no hassle” energy retrofits. A recent Preservation Green Lab report on the energy efficiency potential of small, existing buildings indicates that aligning the interests of small buildings and business owners with a delivery mechanism for energy retrofits could result in more than $240 billion in capital investment and 580,000 permanent jobs nationwide by 2050.


Working in partnership with community-based organizations, such as community development corporations, chambers of commerce and economic improvement districts, the Green Lab will engage small businesses, building owners, and building managers to assess their energy efficiency opportunities and help provide technical assistance and financial analysis. America Saves! is intended to increase capacity of CBOs and resources and improve the economic outlook of Main Street Communities.


America Saves! is based on a new concept  called the Community Energy Developer. This energy efficiency delivery model establishes a single point-of-contact in a community that leads outreach and engagement, serves as a conduit for technical and financial services, and maintains long-term relationships with stakeholders to enable continuous improvement of building energy and economic performance. The Community Energy Developer in each community will be utilized to cater to available resources and social networks.


The program will focus on four geographical regions to demonstrate the America Saves! energy efficiency model: Pacific Northwest, Upper Midwest, Northeast and the South. The Green Lab will work in both urban and rural Main Street communities, in partnership with regional utilities, community-based organizations (CBOs) and key program delivery partners.

The urban and suburban/rural target markets within the four regions are as follows:

Pacific Northwest

  • Urban: Seattle (Capitol Hill EcoDistrict)
  • Rural/Suburban: Washington/Oregon Main Streets

Upper Midwest

  • Urban: Chicago Main Streets and business improvement districts
  • Rural/Suburban: Main Streets in Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin


  • Urban: Rochester and Buffalo, NY; Boston; and Philadelphia
  • Rural/Suburban: Main Streets in Upstate NY and Massachusetts


  • Urban: Houston
  • Rural/Suburban: Texas Main Streets


For more information, please contact Preservation Green Lab Associate Director, Ric Cochrane at rcochrane[at]