A Better Way for Encouraging Home Energy Retrofits

Canada seems locked into the idea that very little happens to improve energy efficiency unless the government provides funding. In Gallon Letter’s view, an activity that requires perpetual government funding is inherently an unsustainable activity.

One example is in the area of home energy retrofits. Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has already announced that next week’s Federal budget, the first from the majority government, will resurrect the home energy retrofit program, presumably providing yet more grants to home owners who upgrade the energy efficiency of their buildings.

Bank of America in the US has embarked on what Gallon Letter sees as a better way. Last week the Bank  announced a $55 million program to encourage energy efficiency improvements to older buildings. The new competitive program will provide low-cost loans and grants to Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) specializing in financing energy efficiency improvements. Once CDFIs have made loans to property owners, Bank of America will work with them to collect pre- and post-retrofit data in order to measure program outcomes, including impacts on energy and water usage and associated financial savings. EnergyScoreCards, a subsidiary of Bright Power, Inc., will be the third party consultant for data collection and analysis.

Critics might well point out that $55 million is not much for the estimated 115 million homes in the United States. That’s true but one has to start somewhere and Bank of America is only one of many banks in the US, albeit reportedly the largest. The good news, from Gallon Letter’s perspective, is that Bank of America is taking a lead in weaning home energy retrofits from the public trough, taking initial steps to turn them from an unsustainable government funded activity to a sustainable commercial banking activity.

Bank of America has also been one of America’s leaders in climate change initiatives in the financial services sector. For more information http://mediaroom.bankofamerica.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=234503&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1567738

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