City plans to use $15 million for energy efficiency program along Blue Hill Avenue to save residents money
December 17, 2009 – (RealEstateRama) — Today, Mayor Thomas M. Menino announced that the City of Boston has joined with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in seeking $60 million of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding to support energy efficiency statewide and the Renew Boston Rental Property Retrofit Program. Under the grant proposal, $15 million would support the Renew Boston program with targeted investments along the Blue Hill Avenue corridor utilizing a full compliment of incentives to afford landlords the opportunity to invest in energy efficient upgrades that benefit their tenants. Over 60 percent of corridor residents living in rental housing and many residents spend more than 10 percent of household income on energy. The program will also compliment the city’s green jobs program, including a pending $4 million U.S. Department of Labor Pathways Out of Poverty grant request.
“These clean energy investments will not only improve area homes, but they will transform lives by significantly lowering utility bills and creating good paying green jobs for local residents,” said Mayor Thomas M. Menino. “This represents the true promise of a clean energy future for Boston and the Commonwealth, a future where Blue Hill Avenue becomes a green corridor of opportunity for all. I commend Governor Patrick and his administration for their leadership in sustainable energy and for their partnership in developing this impressive Retrofit Rampup grant application for the US DOE.”
The Renew Boston Rental Property Retrofit Program will retrofit 7.4 million square feet of residential rental space in the Blue Hill Avenue corridor by 2014 and is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 63,000 tons annually by the end of the project period. The City is already focusing on this area as part of several green jobs initiatives including the Pathways Out of Poverty program and other City green job training programs will be closely linked with weatherization and HVAC contractors hired under this initiative. Using established Department of Energy metrics, the City expects to create 863 jobs over the course of the project.
In addition to a large-scale community mobilization, the application proposes a substantial leveraging of private capital investment for retrofits. If the application receives federal approval, DOER and the City of Boston plan to use the $60 million Recovery Act grant as seed capital to leverage up to $300 million in private funding from one or more major financial institutions, as envisioned in the state’s three-year energy efficiency program. Program economics will also benefit from participation by local utilities, NSTAR Electric and National Grid Gas in Boston, who will provide rebate incentives for energy efficiency services.
The $360 million investment in energy efficiency ($60 million Recovery grant plus $300 million in leveraged private funds) statewide is expected to yield by the end of the third project year $41.3 million annually in energy bill savings for Massachusetts households, businesses, and municipalities, while supporting community-scale energy retrofit initiatives that can serve as models for additional grassroots energy efficiency efforts. Boston’s Rental Property Retrofit Programs is anticipated to save after three years $8.6 million annually.
If awarded, this latest grant funding would help bolster Renew Boston’s current efforts. Officially announced by Mayor Menino in March, Renew Boston will create an innovative one-stop shop to coordinate the provision of energy efficiency and alternative energy services for all Boston residents and businesses while also expanding the Mayor’s green collar workforce initiative. In June, Mayor Menino launched the Renew Boston Residential Energy Efficiency Pilot Program in partnership with the local residential energy efficiency solutions firm Next Step Living, Inc. Since receiving an initial $200,000 in funding for the program, Next Step Living has worked with to provide free energy assessments and efficiency upgrades to over 150 residents, resulting in an average of more than $225 in savings per year from just the first visit alone. About 20 percent of residents will also receive additional air sealing and insulation. These programs will be scaled up for residents and businesses utilizing $6.5 million in funding recently awarded to the City’s in Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants from the U.S. Department of Energy to fund the Renew Boston initiative. The plan sets an ambitious goal of reducing the City’s greenhouse gas emissions by 40,000 metric tons annually while stimulating the local green economy by creating 100 high-quality green-collar jobs.
“Energy efficiency is one of the most cost effective investments we can make to green our city and stimulate our local economy,” said Jim Hunt, Chief of Environment and Energy for the City of Boston. “The Patrick and Menino administrations are working hand in hand to tackle some of the age-old challenges facing landlords and tenants who want to improve their homes and reduce energy bills at the same time. Through this innovative grant proposal to the US DOE, we can unlock the full potential of residential clean energy solutions.”
Mayor’s Press Office at 617-635-4461