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Resources for Energy Efficiency Programs

  1. General Reference
  2. Financing & Repayment Mechanisms
  3. High Road Standards
  4. Marketing & Demand Generation
  5. City Government Programs
  6. State Policy
  7. Weatherization Assistance Program
  8. Multi-Family Buildings


1.   General Reference

  • A Short Guide to Setting up a City-Scale Retrofit Program, by Green For All and COWS (June 2009). This guide provides a model for designing and implementing energy retrofitting programs on a citywide scale, with a goal of making such retrofits available to all, realizing their potential to address climate change, put people to work, and reduce our energy bills. 
  • Efficiency Cities Network, hosted by COWS in collaboration with Green For All. ECN is is an informal policy learning network of government staff, researchers and technical assistance providers, and NGOs currently active in or committed to making scaled efforts at high-road energy retrofits of urban building stock.
  • Enabling Investments in Energy Efficiency, by Merrian Fuller, May 2009. This excellent report studies programs that eliminate first cost barriers for energy efficiency investments in the residential sector. The report is a good primer for anyone looking for detailed guidance on the various financing options for retrofit programs, the challenges and benefits with each option, as well as case studies of energy efficiency and renewable energy programs around the country.


2.   Financing & Repayment Mechanisms
  • Financing for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy: This website and webcast series provides recipients of Recovery Act funding tools to launch energy efficiency and renewable energy financing programs.  The website describes various financing options available and includes a step-by-step online guide that walks users through the key elements to consider when designing a program. 


3.   High Road Standards


4.   Marketing & Demand Generation
  • Best Practices for Energy Retrofit Program Design: Marketing Recommendations, Home Performance Resource Center (HPRC). This brief compiles industry best practices on topics such as how residential retrofit programs should market at their launch, the kinds of marketing strategies and tactics that can help programs succeed long-term, and how programs can use marketing campaigns to increase audit-to-retrofit conversion rates.


5.   City Government Programs

The following examples of local retrofit programs are represented in the Retrofit America's Cities Working Group and provide examples of the different types of funding sources and financing structures that have been deployed for such programs.

  • Clean Energy Works Portland: This innovative program in Portland, Oregon enables homeowners to access low-interest, long-term financing for easy and affordable investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements to their homes.  Homeowners pay back the cost of the investments on their utility bills.  Green For All worked with the City of Portland to create a Community Workforce Agreement to ensure job quality and access for the jobs created as a result of this program.
  • Long Island Green Homes Program: The Town of Babylon, New York established this innovative program under existing statutory authority for special assessments. The Town passed a resolution expanding its definition of solid waste to include carbon which, in effect, allows the Town to quantify home efficiency based on carbon emissions and then use resources from its solid waste fund to improve energy efficiency in homes. The Babylon model also resembles a Municipal Services Bill model, because customers are billed monthly rather than paying via their property tax bill.

  • Seattle Green Building Capital Initiative: The City of Seattle has instituted a host of programs which together form the Green Building Capital Initiative, whose goals are to improve energy efficiency, create job opportunities within the green economy, and save residents and businesses money on energy costs.  This initiative was defined and proposed by the Green Building Task Force, which spent a year developing the program and monitoring its pilot programs - Residential Energy Performance Audit and Residential Energy Efficiency Loan Pilot Programs.
  • Oakland Weatherization and Energy Retrofit Loan Program:  The City of Oakland used money from Stimulus CDBG funding to seed the Weatherization and Energy Retrofit Loan Program (WERLP), launched in January 2010.  Through WERLP, low to moderate income homeowners can take out zero interest loans for a variety of measures that include home rehabilitation to traditional weatherization.  WERLP is being managed by the City's Residential Lending and Rehabilitation Services department, which was able to quickly expand to include energy retrofitting, and hopes to increase interest in weatherization by offering a complete range of home improvement options under one department's scope.


6.   State Policy
  • CaliforniaFIRST Beginning in Fall 2010, property owners throughout many parts of California, will be able to take advantage of Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing through CaliforniaFIRST, a statewide program in development by California Communities, Renewable Funding, and RBC Capital Markets.  Through the program, property owners will be able to finance 100% of the upfront costs of energy efficiency, renewable energy and water efficiency and attach repayment to their property tax bills over periods ranging 5-20 years.  Repayment obligation is attached to the property, not the owner.
  • State Energy Efficiency Policy Briefs, by Matthew Brown for the Alliance to Save Energy. This series of policy briefs is  designed to provide state officials and those who track and analyze state legislation with a concise and focused review of the policy options available to state governments in promoting energy efficiency.
  • Green Jobs-Green NY: New York State legislation to increase consumer demand, provide job training, and achieve energy efficiency retrofits of an estimated 1 million housing units and generate between 5,000 - 15,000 jobs.  Energy retrofits will be financed by a revolving loan program, administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).  The initial funding comes from the auctioning of carbon emission credits and property owners will repay the cost over time on their energy bills.  Expected energy savings will be more than the cost of the improvements, resulting in a net savings for the property owner.


7.   Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP)

  • Economic Opportunity Studies: This DC-based non-profit provides resources to community action agencies, community-based organizations, and private or government organizations that are partners in expanding economic opportunity for all. 


8.  Multi-Family Buildings

  • Green Rehabilitation of Multifamily Rental Properties: A Resource Guide by Bay Area Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) and Build It Green. This guide provides affordable housing owners and administrators with information on incorporating green building and energy efficiency into their multi-unit buildings.  The 58-page guide contains four sections -- site condition and systems, building construction, mechanical systems and interior spaces –- with advice on incorporating the green building principles of energy efficiency, water conservation, resource conservation, and healthy indoor environments.  It also looks at the cost and cost-effectiveness of green strategies to assist affordable housing developers in making decisions about which measures to include in their rehab projects.



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The Community of Practice web pages were made possible by the generous support of the Mitchell Kapor Foundation (