Green money: $14.5 million available for green retrofits

The City of Memphis is making it easy for private commercial and multi-family property owners to go green with the launch of the Green Communities Program, an initiative funded by qualified energy conservation bonds created in 2009 as a part of the economic stimulus package. Memphis received two allocations of the qualified energy conservation bonds for a total of $14.5 million.
The Memphis-Shelby County Office of Sustainability is managing the project in partnership with the City of Memphis Division of Housing and Community Development.
"The city opted to create the Green Communities Program so that private commercial property owners had the benefit of being able to apply for funds on a competitive basis for projects that achieve the intended results of environmental impact through energy conservation through energy efficiency, energy generation, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and water conservation,” says John Zeanah, Administrator with the Memphis-Shelby County Office of Sustainability.
A main goal of the program, which is modeled after a similar initiative in St. Louis, is to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the city and lower operating expenses for local businesses. The project is also intended to have a positive impact on the city by creating jobs and by generating new taxes.
The retrofit projects must have a total cost of $50,000 or more and must be located within the Memphis city limits on properties used for commercial purposes, multi-family residences or non-governmental hospitals or schools.
"This is really a great chance to take this infusion of capital and make some big changes in terms of improving energy efficiency, and hopefully out of it we will get some highlight projects that we can point to show the value of these projects," says Zeanah.
He expects to see green retrofits like the installation of solar panels, improving HVAC systems and mechanical systems for better efficiency, updating building envelopes to reduce heat loss, and improving lighting.
By Michael Waddell

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