Senators today introduced legislation to provide incentives to improve the energy-efficiency of commercial and residential buildings while creating jobs. The “Building Star” program was introduced by Sens. Merkley and Pryor, cosponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders, and included a retrofit financing provision written by Sanders to help residents and businesses cover the upfront cost of efficiency measures. By utilizing rebates and low-interest loans, the legislation introduced leverage between two and three dollars in private investment for every federal dollar spent. Sanders said, “I strongly support efforts to move toward energy independence through increased energy efficiency, which reduces emissions while creating jobs. That’s why I support ways for states and local governments to help homeowners and businesses finance the upfront costs of energy-efficiency measures.”
The Sanders- authored provision of this measure uses a retrofit finance program to help residents and businesses cover the upfront cost of efficiency measures. The program provides funds to states and local governments, utilities and non-profits to support a variety of energy efficiency finance programs, including PACE and on-bill utility loans. The Sanders financing program is contained within the Home Energy Retrofit Finance Program (S. 1246).
“Building Star” provides incentives to improve the efficiency of commercial buildings, creates jobs, reduces emissions, and helps provide participating businesses and multi-family residential buildings with energy savings over the life of the installed measures. “Building Star” is similar to “Home Star,” a parallel program put forward by Sens. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) that offers energy-efficiency assistance to homeowners. President Barack Obama announced his support Tuesday for the “Home Star” program. Home Star provides $200 million for Sanders’ finance program, and Building Star includes $600 million. Each bill has a total cost of $6 billion.