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This Week’s Dialogue: Innovations in Energy Efficiency and Financing

We’ve said it before. Affordable multifamily apartment buildings hold a significant yet mostly untapped opportunity for energy efficiency.

The problem is, financing remains a barrier. Building owners often lack access to capital for retrofits and lenders often do not consider future energy savings in loan underwriting. The multifamily housing market experiences a split incentive barrier, and complicated, multilayered financing structures. In addition, the subsidized multifamily housing market faces long refinance and rehabilitation cycles.

The solution is a multipronged approach, delivered by a diverse group of stakeholders. We need to create a marketplace for energy efficiency, and it can’t exist without innovative financing.

We’re making inroads. Through dialogue and collaboration, Elevate Energy and others are working to create an energy efficiency marketplace that creates jobs, provides steady and low-risk returns to lenders, helps stabilize communities, and protects the planet.

First, we’re bringing together the right stakeholders. This week, the Environmental Defense Fund, Citi, Elevate Energy, and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati convene the third annual dialogue on innovations in energy efficiency and distributed generation finance. Elevate Energy CEO Anne Evens gives the opening remarks and moderates a panel on opportunities for affordable multifamily apartment buildings. Panel members include Jack Markowski of Community Investment Corporation, Matt Schwartz of the California Housing Partnership Corporation, and Susan Leeds of New York City Energy Efficiency Corporation.

Second, we’re finding and sharing innovative ways to remove financing barriers. One of the tools that can alleviate the burden of upfront costs is on-bill repayment, in which building owners repay loans for eligible energy efficiency improvements through monthly utility bills. Our CEO Anne Evens co-wrote an article for the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco along with Markowski and Schwartz that focuses on the opportunity that on-bill repayment provides to finance energy efficiency retrofits for the subsidized affordable multifamily market.

We’re also making policy advancements. Along with supporters from the affordable housing and environmental communities, our organization helped sign on-bill financing into law in Illinois in 2013, making it easier for multifamily building owners to invest in energy efficiency.

Join the conversation: we’ll be live-tweeting from the event at #energyefficiency, and will post a follow-up blog soon.

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