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A national coalition that includes nine major cities and counties has launched a turnkey building decarbonization program that will aim to rapidly deploy clean-energy technologies across millions of small commercial and multifamily buildings with persistently high carbon footprints.

Following the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s recent $20 billion in competitive "green bank" grants through the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, the innovative Building Decarbonization In-A-Box (BDAB) program will be one of the first initiatives to demonstrate how the newly available funding will mobilize capital for on-the-ground decarbonization projects.

Six cities—Atlanta; Fort Collins, Colorado; Milwaukee; Philadelphia; Reno, Nevada; and San Antonio—and three counties—Los Angeles County; St. Louis County, Missouri; and Montgomery County, Maryland—will be the first to take advantage of the local government-driven BDAB program.

“The Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund has the potential to solve a persistent market issue in the commercial buildings sector that disproportionately impacts low-income and disadvantaged communities,” says David Suckling, energy services engineer, Fort Collins Utilities. “Building owners in underserved communities need access to no-cost technical assistance, their own utility data, and long-term financing in order to upgrade their buildings, save money, and reduce carbon emissions at the same time. Fort Collins can get that data to our customers so that they can make decisions and act.”

The coalition also includes UtilityAPI, Allectrify, and Sustainable Real Estate Solutions (SRS) and four nonprofit green banks, including Colorado Clean Energy Fund, Missouri Green Banc, Montgomery County Green Bank, and Philadelphia Green Capital Corp.

“Owners of small commercial and multifamily buildings seldom see the business case for energy efficiency. The BDAB program will fill this gap by providing owners the technical and financial assistance they need to confidently invest in energy improvements. Building owners are often surprised to learn that the combination of cash incentives for high-efficiency equipment, lower energy costs, and long-term financing create a compelling business case to invest in comprehensive retrofits,” says Brian McCarter, SRS founder and CEO.

The BDAB program, supported by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Elemental Excelerator, will help local leaders accelerate the decarbonization of the nation’s 6 million small commercial and multifamily buildings. Participating cities and counties will harness three key data sets—building permits, energy benchmarking (where available), and customer utility data—to implement BDAB.

Implementation of BDAB will:

  • Enable program partners to identify buildings that can benefit from cost-saving clean energy and decarbonization upgrades, such as heat pump upgrades, using local government permit data and/or energy benchmarking data. Building owners will be contacted through direct mail and targeted digital marketing campaigns;
  • Provide participating building owners with no-cost technical and financial assistance via proven software solutions from SRS, UtilityAPI, and Allectrify; and
  • Expand the network of local community lenders trained to provide “green financing,” including 100% long-term Commercial PACE financing, using Allectrify’s FASTPACE platform.

The program will demonstrate the critical role that municipalities can play in the successful implementation of the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund. Municipalities that embrace the BDAB model will continue to see building decarbonization upgrades happening in their communities long after federal funding runs out.

Colin Bishopp, founder and CEO of Allectrify, adds, “Building Decarbonization In-A-Box disrupts the status quo in a way that benefits all communities, including underserved urban and rural communities that are so often left behind. We invite every municipality and utility in the country that is interested in our common-sense, turnkey approach to join this coalition so we can support the successful implementation of the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund and upgrade more buildings in communities all across the country.”