by Jodi Summers
Environmentally conscious real estate leases faster and at better terms than traditional buildings, yet it is extremely difficult for property owners to finance green upgrades. A recent McGraw-Hill survey concluded that building owners looking for finances to pay for energy retrofits for their properties are often are forced to rely on their personal resources rather than outside funding.
Granted, there are some options green loans, but the routes are not traditional. The government and utility companies are doing their share to facilitate green loans. Out of the box choices may include ESCO (energy service company) financing, energy service agreements, government loan programs, PACE (property assessed clean energy) programs, and on-bill utility financing.
Richard L. Kauffman, senior advisor to the secretary, Department of Energy suggests that owners should be look to capital market investors, state bonds, local banks and government incentives to generate the necessary capital for individual green improvements to their existing commercial buildings.
If you want to try the traditional route, instead of asking the bank for a green loan, try rolling the cost of energy efficient improvements into a building retrofit or renovation. This is an easy way to sidestep lenders’ reluctance to loan on green improvements as a stand-alone investment.
The issue at hand many banks is that green lending is a new thing. They have yet to assimilate green loans in into their underwriting programs…which may require years of data for evaluating risk and assessing the long-term financial impact from green investments.
Research and statistics show that Energy Star and LEED-certified buildings can attract higher rents and generate increased demand from tenants < and that a green property can garner a better lease rates and higher sales price. Lenders aren’t persuaded by research. They want empirical data on risks, and actual cost vs. performance data, not just assurances of what a new technology is expected to deliver.
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