Unsexy but brilliant
Last year, the Sacramento City Council gave a unanimous thumbs-up to a $100 million Clean Energy Sacramento project that will help commercial-property owners retrofit buildings to reduce energy use and create jobs. Participants in the Property Assessed Clean Energy program, or PACE for short, which starts in January 2013, will use the money to install more efficient windows and doors, new energy-efficient air conditioners and heaters, better insulation, green lighting systems—you get the picture.
It’s true that fixing up old buildings is not exactly as sexy, sustainability-speaking, as mounting solar panels or erecting wind turbines. But boy, do simple changes do wonders to limit greenhouse-gas pollution.
Plus, the effort will create about 1,500 construction jobs.
Based on a 2009 law that allows California cities and counties to provide up-front costs for energy-efficiency improvements, Sacramento is one of just two cities chosen to benefit from millions in private-investment funds that will make this expansive local retrofitting operation possible. (See column note for more details.)
The Sacramento community owes thanks to none other than billionaire business magnate Richard Branson and his nonprofit Carbon War Room for making this happen. He’s the reason Ygrene Energy Fund, a part of Branson’s consortium, will develop, administer and fund a project we hope will become a green-building-retrofit model for the state and nation.