Clinton-Backed Efficiency Program Tackles 30m Sq Ft of Commercial Space

by | Oct 13, 2011

A Los Angeles program backed by the Clinton Climate Initiative is giving building owners financing and free energy assessments, in an effort to raise the efficiency of 20 to 30 million square feet of commercial space.

The LA Commercial Building Performance Partnership aims not only to help commercial property owners make their buildings more energy and water efficient, but also to save tenants money. The City of Los Angeles designed the program in collaboration with the Clinton Climate Initiative and the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group.

Energy assessments encompassing more than 12 million square feet of commercial building space are already underway as part of the program’s pilot phase. Participating buildings range in size from less than 10,000 to more than one million square feet, including factories, offices, hotels and retail.

The partners say they will offer financing at competitive rates to cover up to 100 percent of the cost of an owner’s energy upgrades. One option available through the partnership is property assessed clean energy (PACE) financing, in which building owners can secure capital and repay the costs through their property tax bill, payable over periods of up to 20 years.

Improvements to building energy and water efficiency could include on-site clean energy generation, lighting and chiller plant upgrades or the installation of new technology to control and monitor energy use. Depending on how the work is financed and the range of improvements implemented, the partners say some projects could be cash flow positive from the start.

The city also says it is standardizing building energy audits to include financial data.

Through the Recovery Act, the federal government is providing stimulus money to fund certain aspects of the partnership, including the free energy assessments and a reserve fund for securing additional financing executed under the PACE mechanism.  The program also aims to recycle the ARRA funds, wherever possible, to enable more retrofit projects.

CCI has worked on more than 400 energy-saving building retrofit projects around the world. It is a partner on the Billion Dollar Green Challenge, under which 32 universities have set up revolving funds to finance energy efficiency upgrades.

CCI previously worked with the Los Angeles mayor’s office and LA Bureau of Street Lighting to develop what the partners call the largest LED street light retrofit in the world. Once complete, the partners say that project will reduce CO2 emissions by over 40,500 tons and save the city $10 million a year in street light maintenance and energy costs – a 40 percent savings.

The LA building partnership is also participating in the Better Buildings Challenge, an initiative of The White House, which is using tax breaks, grants and loan guarantees in an effort to increase energy efficiency in commercial buildings by 20 percent in the next ten years. The program aims to cut companies’ energy bills by about $40 billion a year.

Last month the Clinton Global Initiative announced a three-year project in which commercial partners will work with tenants signing or renewing leases, to incorporate energy efficiency measures and document the economic benefits. Partners include Goldman Sachs, Greenprint Foundation, Johnson Controls, Jones Lang LaSalle, Malkin Holdings LLC, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Vornado Realty Trust and YR&G.

Picture credit: Graham Coreil-Allen

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