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Pushing Energy Efficiency Finance Beyond Theory To Practice

By: Matt Golden, Senior Energy Finance Consultant, Environmental Defense Fund

New Energy and Loan Performance Data Project Uses Latest in Data Science to Help Capital Markets Engage in Efficiency Lending

Environmental Defense Fund’s Investor Confidence Project (ICP) and the Clean Energy Finance Center (CEFC), in partnership with state and local lending programs, financial organizations and a range of additional stakeholders, are collecting, aggregating and analyzing loan performance and energy savings data from energy efficiency upgrades in residential and commercial buildings.

The Energy and Loan Performance Data Project represents the first concerted effort to combine data from some of the largest US energy efficiency programs in an attempt to develop an actuarially significant dataset to help engage the capital markets.

Nearly 40% of US energy is consumed by both residential and commercial buildings.  Realizing all of the available cost-effective energy efficiency savings would require roughly $279 billion of investment, resulting in more than $1 trillion in energy savings over ten years.  However, currently, only 1% of all US investments are made in energy efficiency projects.  Our goal for this project is to help lay the foundation that will enable organizations to tap into this vast potential market.

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Plastic And Chemicals Can’t Take The LEED On Green Construction

If it’s not power plants fighting carbon pollution reduction, it’s plastic companies fighting against voluntary standards to make buildings less wasteful.  The Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) building certification system, developed in 2000 by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), provides third-party verification for buildings striving to reduce environmental impact.  The system gives credits to builders who eliminate the use of certain plastics and chemicals in building construction, such as PVC and vinyl that are known to be hazardous to workers and occupants.  However, these credits, which once seemed like apple pie, have now been met with opposition from plastic and chemical industries lobbyists.

Recently, these polluting industries have “slipped wording” into the 2014 Financial Services and General Government Appropriation bill, to undermine the federal government’s ability to use the popular and successful LEED standards when building or renovating its office buildings.  The lobbyists claim that LEED standards are not open and transparent, and through a bit of sophistry they have used this appropriation amendment to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the LEED system.

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