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Toledo, Ohio

BetterBuildings Northwest Ohio

Location: Toledo, Ohio
Seed Funding: $15 million
Target Building Types: Commercial, institutional, governmental, and residential
Learn More: 
Facebook: BetterBuildings Northwest Ohio
Twitter: @BBNWOhio

A Broad Approach to Energy Efficiency in Northwest Ohio

Port authorities typically bring to mind cargo ships, freight trains, and jet transports, but the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority is much more than an operator of ports. A prime mover in the Northwest Ohio regional economy, the Port Authority not only regulates the area's transportation hubs but also focuses on job growth and economic development throughout the region.

Using $15 million in seed funding from the U.S. Department of Energy's Better Buildings Neighborhood Program, the Port Authority has created the BetterBuildings Northwest Ohio program to promote the area's emerging green energy industry through job training and creation, create a sustainable program that harnesses the enormous financial power of area energy expenditures, and make energy efficiency the option of choice in Northwest Ohio.

Program Design: The Authority on Project Development
Financing: Flexible Funding for Commercial and Institutional Upgrades
Workforce Development: Partnering With Municipalities, Higher Education, and Utilities

The Authority on Project Development

Through its decades of project management, the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority has developed relationships with governments, businesses, and other entities throughout Northwest Ohio. Thanks to this breadth of experience, BetterBuildings Northwest Ohio works with a variety of entities to promote energy efficiency, including:

  • Industrial/manufacturing
  • Commercial/retail
  • Government/municipal
  • For profit/nonprofit organizations
  • Educational institutions
  • Healthcare
  • Small, medium, and large businesses
  • Residential

Starting in Toledo, then expanding to other localities throughout the state of Ohio, BetterBuildings Northwest Ohio is offering financing for energy efficiency improvements for virtually any existing type of building, from offices to wastewater plants and firehouses to schools. The program will emphasize how building owners can save on energy costs while increasing the value of their investments.

BetterBuildings Northwest Ohio provides overall management and guidance throughout the entire energy efficiency project. From initial planning and execution of the energy evaluation with a certified energy expert, BetterBuildings Northwest Ohio assists with the analysis and selection of recommended energy conservation measures and provides support throughout the entity's internal approval process. In addition, the program offers flexible financing options, construction management services during installation of recommended energy conservation measures, and tools to measure and verify the energy savings and costs.

Flexible Funding for Commercial and Institutional Upgrades

For commercial and institutional building upgrades, which in some cases can cost millions of dollars, BetterBuildings Northwest Ohio has created a revolving loan fund to provide immediate funding for up-front costs. The revolving loan fund also allows "packaging" of smaller businesses' energy upgrade transactions of less than $1 million, giving access to investment-grade, fixed-rate bond financing.

To leverage the funds provided through DOE, BetterBuildings Northwest Ohio plans to issue a minimum of $40 million in long-term loans over the next two years to business owners for the purpose of financing their energy efficiency improvement projects. These loans, which are provided with fixed-rate financing at rates as low as 4% for up to 15 years, are available through the Northwest Ohio Bond Fund. This fund has been in existence for more than 20 years and provides sustainable financing for energy efficiency and alternative energy installations throughout the Northwest Ohio region.

Partnering With Municipalities, Higher Education, and Utilities

BetterBuildings Northwest Ohio is leveraging its relationships with local educational institutions to conduct research and train professionals to support energy upgrades. A sustainability class within the University of Toledo's civil engineering department performed an energy inventory of Toledo and Lucas County buildings and vehicles, including more than 300 buildings in total, many of them large consumers of energy. The students verified energy meters in buildings and consolidated utility bills. After this major data collection effort, they performed analyses and made recommendations for assessments and upgrades.

For the first two phases of energy investments, more than 45 of the city's buildings have been targeted for assessments and energy projects worth more than $10 million. In total, the program has collected energy data on 400 buildings, representing 12,000 square feet. BetterBuildings Northwest Ohio has also signed an Energy Services Agreement with the City of Toledo and has formed an Energy Special Improvement District (ESID).

BetterBuildings Northwest Ohio also partnered with Owens Community College and Conservation Services Group to provide Building Performance Institute energy assessment training for energy professionals, resulting in new, green careers in Northwest Ohio. After receiving 140 hours of training, as well as $10,000 in specialized equipment, these new energy experts are fully trained, certified, and equipped to perform home energy evaluations in conjunction with the Home Performance Solutions program sponsored by the local energy provider, Columbia Gas of Ohio. Home Performance Solutions offers residential full home energy assessments for $50 (or $20 for income-eligible customers) and provides a list of recommended improvements, options for rebates, and overall assistance. Eligible energy upgrade projects include: lighting upgrades, attic and wall insulation upgrades; air sealing of cracks, gaps, and holes; high-efficiency gas furnace or boiler replacements; programmable thermostats; and water-efficient, energy-saving showerheads.


Kevin Moyer

U.S. Department of Energy
Better Buildings Neighborhood Program