Article Solutions for Cities By Ryan Gunstream

NORESCO can help you save and find money for your decarbonization and resiliency projects

Ryan Gunstream is a senior account executive with NORESCO. He can be reached at or (916) 517-2769.


Municipal infrastructure challenges are a tale as old as time. In California, a rapidly changing climate and new state laws are making that tale more complicated. Yet, the same wisdom still holds true. Success is in the details, and public works are the foundation of a cleaner, sustainable future.

NORESCO takes a quality-driven, detailed approach to projects, too — from evaluating energy infrastructure to developing investment-grade engineering and systems plans to constructing building improvements. Here’s how we helped the city of Fullerton innovate and move toward a cleaner, more sustainable future — all without upfront capital.

Performance contracting and grant navigation

Budgetary constraints often limit the scope of what traditional municipal projects can achieve. NORESCO’s performance contracting approach offers cities alternate ways to implement energy-related improvements that can reduce costs and boost results. Performance contracting uses future savings to offset initial costs. This lets cities tackle chronic issues — like deferred maintenance — and ensure long-term performance.

The city of Fullerton contracted with NORESCO to help reduce carbon emissions, modernize aging energy infrastructure, and generally promote health and sustainability. City leaders also wanted to show they were good stewards of city budgets and could minimize capital outlays.

“Our energy savings program allows us to stretch our general fund dollars while improving community safety and progressing toward our sustainability and climate goals,” said Council Member Mayor Fred Jung, after the city implemented an energy savings performance project with NORESCO. “We leveraged guaranteed energy savings to upgrade critical infrastructure and deliver economic and environmental benefits for our residents and our staff.”

NORESCO guarantees $12 million in energy savings over the term of the contract. The contract, supported by an ongoing measurement and verification process, enabled the city to improve its infrastructure while mitigating the technical and financial risk often inherent in traditional contracting methods. The energy savings associated with the building improvements pay for the improvements — with no upfront capital from the city.

Alternate project delivery methods, like the one used by Fullerton, can also help provide access to additional funding opportunities. Our experts can help you build strategic partnerships and navigate complex government grants and utility credits.

For example, Fullerton is exploring one of the Inflation Reduction Act’s elective pay (also called direct pay) provisions. As proposed by the IRS, this allows tax-exempt and governmental entities to receive a payment equal to 85% of an investment tax credit for qualifying clean energy projects. The NORESCO team also helped the city qualify for a $15,000 rebate through the Southern California Regional Energy Network.

Leaders in sustainability

With new state statutes aimed at tackling climate change, California’s public agencies have even more incentives to embrace energy-conscious contracting methods for public works projects. NORESCO’s expertise in alternate delivery aligns seamlessly with these mandates, giving agencies the flexibility to navigate regulatory landscapes while driving meaningful progress toward decarbonization.

Again, let’s take Fullerton as an example. Through just one project, city leaders were able to reduce annual carbon emissions by almost 2.8 million pounds — the equivalent of planting 1,300 acres of trees. The Southern California chapter of the American Public Works Association recognized the city’s efforts with a BEST Award in 2023.

Modernized energy infrastructure and education

Likewise, the quest for smarter, more sustainable cities has become paramount. Intelligent grids, renewable energy sources, and advanced control systems can help cities mitigate the impacts of climate change. On-site generation and energy resiliency measures, such as microgrids, also ensure a reliable power supply, even amidst rising climate-related disruptions like heat waves, wildfires, and extreme weather events.

At Fullerton, NORESCO helped add renewable energy infrastructure, replace inefficient HVAC systems, and install electric vehicle charging stations. The project also included upgrading more than 7,000 lighting fixtures with new, energy-efficient LEDs, as well as adding solar canopies to parking areas.

Sustainability isn’t just a top-down effort though. NORESCO’s comprehensive approach includes options for educating communities and promoting sustainable practices. Our Green Operations team works with building occupants, students, business leaders, and others to provide information, advice, and operational strategies that promote sustainability. It’s our mission to share our passion for climate action and empower communities to build a sustainable future for everyone.

Your partner in energy savings

For 40 years, NORESCO has helped clients mitigate the effects of climate change by decarbonizing, modernizing, and electrifying energy infrastructure. Through our comprehensive portfolio of energy solutions, alternate delivery methods, and community outreach programs, we give customers the tools they need to build smarter, healthier cities, as well as the knowledge to lead their communities toward a cleaner energy future.

To date, NORESCO has generated more than $5 billion in energy and operating cost savings, and reduced customer CO2 emissions by more than 25 million metric tons — the equivalent of planting more than 1.4 million acres of forest. These savings increase every day, thanks to municipalities like yours. Our team is eager and willing to help you achieve your vision for sustainability.