EECBG Spending Plans Begin to Take Shape in Cities Across U.S.
Energy Block Grant to Support Nickels’ New Green Building Capital Initiative
By Kevin McCarty
April 27, 2009
Conference Vice President Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels chose “Earth Day” to unveil his new far-reaching plan to reduce energy use in residences and buildings, both new and existing, throughout the city, an effort that is supported by new funding made available under the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) program. Called the “Green Building Capital Initiative,” the City of Seattle expects to use EECBG funds as part of a mix of resources to support a much broader commitment to energy efficiency activities.
“By making our homes and businesses use energy smartly, we save on our utility bills, and we help the planet,” said Nickels. “We’ve been working on green buildings for years, but now we have a partner in the White House. We’re ready to join with President Obama to create jobs, clean the air, and lead the world.”
This new initiative, which was shaped by a Green Building Task Force charged by Nickels to improve energy efficiency by 20 percent, includes a number of specific proposals aimed at single-family homes, multi-family residences, and commercial buildings, with a goal of also sharing it with the cities across the region that receive federal stimulus money for energy efficiency programs.
Nickels’ plan already pledges $1.2 million of its anticipated EECBG formula funds to help underwrite a Residential Energy Efficiency Loan Program, which will utilize a tiered payment structure providing greater subsidy for lowest income borrowers for upgrading lighting, furnaces, water heaters and windows, among other items. Loans will range from $8,000 - $20,000 depending on upgrades undertaken, with repayments helping to recapitalize the loan fund for future lending. In addition to the loan program, a Residential Energy Performance Audit Pilot Program will provide 5,000 energy audits for single family residences over 18 months, making it the largest such program in the nation.
For the Commercial and Multi-Family sector, the initiative requires mandatory measurement and disclosure of Energy Star Portfolio Manager energy performance benchmarking data and ratings. There is a Workforce Development element focusing on certification of auditors and standardization of practices and expanded training programs. In addition, there will be an Education & Public Engagement Campaign, more rigorous energy efficiency requirements for new buildings, and new permit review process for innovative projects meeting certain energy performance standards.
Seattle joins other cities across the U.S. that are beginning to make public their intentions for deploying EECBG funds to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy development and promote job creation. Earlier this month, Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez outlined his city’s initial plans for investing EECBG resources, calling for solar installations on four city multi-level parking structures, re-roofing a number of city facilities that currently are not engineered to hold new photovoltaic systems to prepare the buildings for the installation of thin-film photovoltaic systems. Late last month, Boston Mayor Tom Menino joined with former Vice President Al Gore to tout his Renew Boston initiative where a portion of expected EECBG funding will underpin a significant new commitment to auditing and retrofitting residences throughout the city, with $1.3 million committed to a Residential Energy Efficiency Program and $1.3 million for a Revolving Loan Fund.
Formula Cities Must Register Well Before June 25 Deadline
Officials at the U.S. Department of Energy continue to remind all cities and counties slated to receive formula grants to register officially with FedConnect -- https://www.fedconnect.net/Fedconnect/ -- well before the June 25, 2009 DOE deadline for filing applications for EECBG formula funds. Importantly, registration is the necessary first step in preparing for the receipt of EECBG funds and, as such, cities should complete their registration well before the June 25 deadline (expect about 21 days for the registration to take effect).