When it comes to Verizon Wireless and the environment, the company is working to reduce its carbon footprint by helping keep cell phones out of landfills, encouraging paperless billing and building energy efficient store locations and offices.

All of those are pretty standard fare for companies these days. Verizon, however, is moving into a unique area with lots of potential for the future: smart grid technology.

Earlier this month, Verizon and Duke Energy announced that they would be working together on a project called “Envision: Charlotte,” which was described as a “first-of-its-kind, public-private collaboration to make the commercial buildings in Charlotte’s urban core more energy efficient.”

About 70 buildings from Charlotte’s 1.94 mile I-277 belt loop will participate in the project.

According to Duke Energy, digital energy technologies connected by Verizon’s 4G LTE network will be used to gather and aggregate energy usage data from the participating buildings. The information will be visible on large interactive lobby-level screens, which will be provided by Cisco.

On those screens, the building tenants will be able to see the energy consumption for the community as well as suggested actions for reducing their personal energy usage in the office.

The goal of the project is to reduce energy use by up to 20 percent and decrease greenhouse gases by 220,000 metric tons by 2016.

All told, the 70 participating buildings represent more than 12 million square feet of space.

In a news release, Mark Bartolomeo, vice president for global enterprise sales at  Verizon Wireless, said the project uses the company’s latest technology.

“The Envision: Charlotte project is important not only because of what it provides the community but because it uses the latest 4G technology in a manner that could have only been imagined a few years ago,” he said. “Verizon Wireless is excited to be a part of such a cutting edge project that will surely become a benchmark for others who need the high speeds, low latency and reliability of LTE network in the future. This is a real-life example of how machine-to-machine (M2M) technology is an effective way to empower people as they become stewards for energy savings.”

Know more about Verizon Wireless and the environment? Leave us a note in the comments below.