Banking On Energy Retrofits

One of the largest banks in California says it will finance $55 million worth of energy-conservation improvements in older buildings.

Bank of America will provide low-interest loans and grants to Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) that specialize in financing energy-efficiency improvements. The bank will select 12 community development lenders throughout the nation.

Bank officials said the program is a way to address climate change.

"Residential and commercial buildings account for approximately 40 percent of all primary energy consumption in the United States. That's why, if we really want to address climate change, we have to improve the energy efficiency of existing buildings, particularly older ones that tend to be the least efficient," said Anne Finucane, the bank's Global Strategy and Marketing officer.

More information is available in this press release. And here is a list of certified Community Development Financial Institutions by state.

How much of that $55 million winds up in the San Joaquin Valley remains to be seen, but we are happy that BofA is targeting energy conservation. The SJVCEO is heavily involved in efficiency, and is helping budget-strapped and staff-decimated cities in the Valley with energy and cost-saving retrofits.

Changing lights, replacing air conditioners and installing new motors are less glamorous than solar farms, wind turbines and the renewables part of the clean-energy movement, but is the most cost effective and easiest to accomplish. In fact, Federal Department of Energy head Steven Chu called it "low-hanging fruit" until deciding even that wasn't an accurate characterization. He now says energy efficiency is "fruit on the ground" and ripe for picking.

As this blog states, minimal investment in energy efficiency can reap maximum benefits. Studies show that commercial retrofits can cut power bills in the United States by billions of dollars. That is money that can be reinvested or stimulate the economy.