There is no shortage of programs that help governments and commercial enterprises make their facilities more energy efficient. The Better Buildings Challenge (BBC), part of the White House's Better Buildings Initiative (BBI) that was announced in 2011, aims to increase energy efficiency in buildings by 20 percent over the next decade and reduce energy costs for American businesses and governments by nearly $40 billion. The Better Buildings Challenge is the public-private partnership component of the BBI.

The Department of Energy selected Santa Rosa, Calif.-based Ygrene Energy Fund to serve as a financial ally in support of the BBC. Ygrene is a provider of energy efficiency programs for local governments.

As a private sector participant in the BBC, Ygrene has committed to unlock a minimum of $100 million in commercial building energy efficiency improvements over the next 12 months.

The firm offers no-cost Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program design, administration and funding to cities and counties throughout the United States. Through commercial PACE projects, building owners can finance upgrades with lower utility bills. PACE-funded projects deliver low interest rates, long repayment periods and simple underwriting procedures, according to the company.

In areas with PACE legislation in place, local governments can offer a specific bond to investors and then loan the money to consumers and businesses to put toward an energy retrofit in a facility. The loans are repaid over the assigned term (typically 15 or 20 years) via an annual assessment on the building owner’s property tax bill. PACE bonds can be issued by municipal financing districts or finance companies, and the proceeds can be used to retrofit commercial, residential and other properties. One characteristic of PACE programs is that the loan is attached to the property rather than an individual. For more details, go to this site or here.

Ygrene's BBC funding target will impact state/local governments, said Dennis Hunter, chairman of Ygrene. “Our $100 million commitment in support of the BBC enables a fast, efficient process for property owners to execute energy efficiency projects in unprecedented numbers — creating new jobs and far-reaching, immediate effects on the local economy.”

Hunter told Govpro that the energy efficiency retrofits would provide a shot in the arm to local economies. “Estimates indicate that for every $100 million invested in these programs, 1,500 jobs are created that result in $250 million in economic activity throughout the region,” Hunter said.

Hunter said his firm is ready to assist state and local governments that wish to tap PACE funding and/or make their facilities energy efficient. “Ygrene's turnkey energy efficiency finance solution can be rolled out in any of the 26 states (and counting) that have enacted approved PACE legislation. Communities that are interested in joining their state's PACE district can contact Ygrene to schedule a workshop to learn about the benefits of these easy, no-cost, and risk-free programs.”

Hunter said his firm’s workshops cover the financial, legal and operational aspects of designing and managing PACE programs. “The workshops help to ensure the most sound and secure program specific to each municipality's interests,” he added. For more information, go to Ygrene's website.

Govpro has previously published articles about federal energy retrofit programs and state and local governments’ role in energy retrofit funding setups.