Renew Boston Trust is using energy performance contracting to finance resilience measures with savings from energy efficiency upgrades in an effort to mitigate CO2 emissions and boost adaptation capabilities.

The Challenge

Like many cities, for Boston, financing essential municipal infrastructure upgrades via taxes is increasingly difficult in the face of other pressing social needs. Yet, as a coastal city vulnerable to severe weather and sea level rise, Boston still requires significant investments in resilience and energy efficiency upgrades. The RBT helps solve this challenge by using a tried-and-true model to fund improvements to critical-but-underserved projects.

 

The Solution

Boston has launched the Renew Boston Trust (RBT) in an effort to improve energy efficiency and resilience upgrades in the city’s building stock by using a self-funded financing model. The system builds upon the idea of energy performance contracting, in which energy savings are used to finance investments. With RBT, operating savings from energy efficiency and renewable energy measures pay not only for those investments, but excess savings pay for resilience investments, which traditionally do not produce operating savings by themselves. While the current program primarily targets municipal properties, RBT is working to apply innovative financing models to the institutional and nonprofit sector as well, via a tax-exempt lease program that would aggregate small projects, allowing non-profits to reduce upfront costs and improve financing through economies of scale. When implemented, the expanded RBT is expected to achieve a 10-fold increase in funding for energy efficiency and resilience projects and accelerate achievement of the city’s Climate Action Plan emissions reduction goals.

 

Environmental Benefits - The resilience upgrades funded by RBT can make properties and communities less vulnerable to rising sea levels and increased storm activity.

Social Benefits - Given the negative impact of high operating costs on housing, expanding self-funded investment in property upgrades, without burdening the operating budget, aims to make affordable housing more widely available.

Economic Benefits - The expansion of projects under RBT will expand the green-collar workforce needed to carry out resilience and energy efficiency improvements.

Health Benefits - The retrofit projects often result in improved indoor air quality that reduces respiratory health hazards.

 

About Cities100

In its second year, Cities100 – presented by C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40), Sustainia and Realdania – showcases leading solutions to urban climate challenges in ten sectors, ranging from solid waste management to transportation. For the first time, this year’s publication features solutions that address the nexus of climate change and social equity.

Available online and in print, Cities100 provides stakeholders an accessible format to explore achievable solutions for climate action in cities, and will be a useful tool for relevant groups ranging from impact investors and development organizations, to mayors and city governments.  You can access the full Cities100 2016 publication online here and read more about how may­ors will de­liver the aims of the Paris Agree­ment in a fore­ward by Anne Hidalgo, C40 Chair and Mayor of Paris, here.