Effective implementation of the green economy requires the mobilization of a network across government, business and the non-profit sector to access funds, design programs and execute job-training and economic development solutions on the ground. The integrated commitment and approach through the Fund and Cities Initiative will build an inclusive green economy through the following strategies:
- Access to Capital: The Fund will provide low-cost financing to help homeowners, landlords and other building owners make cost-effective retrofit improvements, with a dual priority on deep environmental impact and economic benefits for low-income people. The Fund will not lend directly to building owners. Instead, the Fund will invest in highly innovative programs that help catalyze and leverage additional funding from local governments, financial institutions and foundations, creating new models for financing retrofits. The Fund will have a 10-year life, with principal returned at the end of the Fund. During the term of the Fund, investors will receive current interest payments, as well as third-party verified reports on the social, economic and environmental impacts their investments make possible. At present, Living Cities is utilizing its Catalyst Fund to support proof of concept investments for the Urban Opportunity Retrofit Fund. These investments will provide guidance on future investment decisions for the Fund, which is expected to begin making investments in or following Q1 2010, assuming an initial close of at least by end or 2009 or early 2010. The Fund will utilize capital calls over the course of five years to facilitate investmens and achieve expected metrics.
- Capacity Building: Roll out a series of local campaigns through the Cities Initiative to create clean-energy opportunities in 2009 and beyond, to raise awareness about the social, environmental and economic opportunities and benefits of a green economy. The Initiative will target cities in states seen as traditional environmental strongholds - California, Washington and Massachusetts - and also support cities in regions that have not yet risen to national prominence as environmental leaders: the Northeast, Florida, and the Southwest. It will partner with cutting-edge local organizations across over 20 cities to create clean-energy, local models for replication across the country. These cities include: Albuquerque, NM, Buffalo, NY, Denver, CO, Detroit, MI, Los Angeles, CA, New Orleans, LA, Oakland, CA, Pittsburgh, PA, Portland, OR and Seattle, WA; and Santa Clara County, CA. This Initiative will ensure opportunities and benefits are available to those who need them most - low-income people and people of color.
Energy efficiency has been described as the most important climate solution - the biggest, fastest and most cost-effective way to make immediate progress on reducing emissions and reliance on dirtier forms of energy.
The homes, apartments, commercial properties and community facilities all around us represent a major opportunity for reducing global warming pollution. Buildings in the U.S. consume 72% of the nation's electricity and 55% of the natural gas - and account for 40% of greenhouse gas emissions. Use of off-the-shelf technologies and well-understood techniques can cut building energy use by as much as 40%, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by an average of 1.8 tons per residential unit and 5 tons for a 10,000 square foot commercial or institutional building.
Building retrofits are not only good for the environment, they are also good financial investments. Adding insulation, installing programmable thermostats and energy-efficient lighting and water heaters, sealing air leaks in the building envelope, and making other simple improvements can pay back in 5-7 years. More substantial investments, such as HVAC systems, can increase potential energy savings and pay back in approximately 10 years.
Retrofits also create jobs. The Center for American Progress estimates that every million dollars of investment in building energy retrofits has the potential to create 12 new jobs. Critically, many of these jobs - from insulation installation to skilled trades, and from energy audits to property management - offer opportunities to train low-income workers for long-term careers.
Despite these benefits, relatively few buildings have been retrofitted. One of the primary reasons is that retrofits require upfront capital investment, which is repaid from resulting energy savings over time. Funding is almost nonexistent at present, in part because most conventional lenders are not willing to lend in such a nascent area.
At the same time, the federal economic recovery bill has provided cities and building owners with more than billion to test and scale retrofit approaches. Cities across the country are looking for flexible financing to assist them in seizing this opportunity. They need 'catalytic capital' to enhance the federal subsidy.
An opportunity now exists to create a market for retrofit financing through large scale demonstrations that prove the potential of unlocking the 'first fuel' of energy efficiency. Living Cities and Green For All want this market to be created in a way that expands opportunity in low-income communities, as well as reduces emissions. This is the aim of the Fund.
The Energy Efficiency Opportunity Fund creates a unique platform for providing 'triple bottom line returns' including: a financial return of 2-3 percent annually; a social return that saves money and creates jobs in low-income communities; and an environmental return in the form of reduced energy consumption and avoided greenhouse gases. Funds will be invested in major cities across the United States, including those in Green For All's Cities Initiative. This campaign will lift up Green For All's national wingspan, its ability to generate broad momentum with low-income communities and communities of color (often absent from the environmental movement), and its strong connections with the business sector. Combining local expertise and relationships with Green For All's national perspective on the recession recovery, on best practices in the field and on effective campaign strategy, will make for tremendously effective partnerships.
We would like to recognize the work of CGI staff member Jamie Statter for assisting us in developing meaningful partnerships to advance our energy efficiency retrofit work.
Prior to 2012:
SEEKING: financial assistance, implementing partners and Media/Marketing Opportunities. Green For All and Living Cities seek capital commitments from institutions and individuals that share theirbelief that economic recovery and economic opportunity can converge through smart investments in people, place and planet. Specifically, they invite opportunities to connect with financial institutions classified as wholesale banks under the Community Reinvestment Act and foundations that make PRIs.
OFFERING: best practice information, media and marketing assistance. Green For All offers the mobilization of its network across government, business and the nonprofit sector to allies who ensure the effective and equitable implementation of the green jobs vision and the stimulus (recovery) funds.