If you are not a building owner able to easily handle the capital cost associated with the installation of energy efficiency improvements, there are a number of innovative financing strategies that might be able to help. The goal is to be able to pay the cost of these improvements over time, with the cost being offset by the energy cost savings.
On the government side, one program worth investigating, if it is available or soon will be available in your area, is the PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy laws) program. PACE programs allow for long term (15-20 years) borrowing at low interest rates (typical of municipal bond funding). PACE laws have already been enacted in 27 states to-date.
On the private side, a number of new companies have jumped on this bandwagon, including Metrus Energy, Skyline Innovations and Transcend Equity Development Corporation. Metrus Energy, established in 2009 and headquartered in San Francisco, uses its innovative Efficiency Services Agreement (ESA), whereby customer repayment is based on a cost per avoided unit of energy savings. Metrus, typically working with Energy Service Companies (ESCOs), pays for all the upfront and on-going project costs, providing facilities with the immediate operational benefits of large-scale energy efficiency measures without the capital expense. Metrus says it can finance projects as low as $100,000 to projects in excess of $1 million. Skyline Innovations, founded in 2009 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., also has a model that delivers guaranteed energy savings to customers without the capital outlay. Skyline typically finances, installs and maintains the energy saving systems (largely concentrating on solar), and gets paid out of energy cost savings. Transcend Equity, founded in 2001 and located in Dallas, TX, uses its Managed Energy Services Agreement (MESA) and typically will pay the utility bills for a building in exchange for a fee that is less than what the owner would ordinarily pay for energy. At the end of the eight- to ten-year agreement, title to the improvements then passes to the building owner.
Essentially, these companies are selling energy efficiency as a service! You may want to check them out if you are interested in alternative ways to finance energy savings improvements in your building.