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Self-Funded Public Facilities Energy Retrofit Programs

In fall of 2012 and 2013, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) provided $7 million in competitive awards through its State Energy Program (SEP) to 14 states for self-funded public facility energy retrofit programs as well as to assist states in driving demand for public facility retrofits. DOE and SEP will be leveraging the lessons learned from these awardees to document project successes and best practices for future programs.

Self-Funded Public Facility Energy Retrofit Programs

In the fall of 2012, DOE competitively awarded $5 million through SEP to eight states (Alaska, California, Kentucky, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, Virginia, and Washington) to develop fee-based, self-funded public facilities energy retrofit program models. These programs will provide technical assistance to prospective clients interested in energy efficiency retrofits to public buildings and facilities (e.g., state buildings, municipal buildings, school districts, water and wastewater treatment facilities, street lighting, etc.).

A fee-for-service program can be used as a self-sustaining model that goes beyond direct retrofitting of the energy-consuming systems and components of a state's building portfolio. In addition to the retrofit activities themselves, a well-designed fee-for-services program will also have the capacity to fund technical assistance, administrative services, and educational activities to support energy retrofit efforts in public facilities. These energy efficiency retrofits will help states save energy and taxpayer money.

Beginning in 2013, the eight states awarded began a variety of efforts to overcome barriers to develop or expand their state public facilities energy retrofit efforts. Results of these efforts will be available in 2016.

Driving Demand for Public Facility Retrofits

In the fall of 2013, DOE announced an additional $2 million in SEP competitive awards to six states (Iowa, Massachusetts, Maryland, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Wisconsin) to assist them in driving demand for public facility retrofit programs with a focus on increasing uptake in one of three key market sectors, including:

  • Local government facilities
  • Public housing
  • State facilities.

These two-year awards will assist states in developing specific strategies to increase uptake for energy efficiency projects paid for with energy savings performance contracting or other sustainable financing programs. The success of the various strategies these states choose will be judged against pre-award baselines representing current levels of retrofit projects.

Leveraging Lessons Learned

To document project successes and lessons learned, states agreed to share project information and updates with DOE so it could be leveraged by other states and government entities.

For the awards made in 2012, each state is providing and developing project-level data for sites in their pilot retrofit programs using energy savings performance contracts or similar project financing. This project-level data will help quantify energy savings benefits resulting from the retrofit programs developed or improved using DOE financial assistance awards. Each state will also document how they overcame operational, financial, or organizational barriers to advance energy efficiency initiatives. This implementation model will allow states facing similar barriers to share the successful "playbook", including tools that will enable them to successfully replicate these proven methods in their own communities.

For the awards made in 2013, the goal is to develop a number of replicable models with proven results in driving demand, along with best practices to overcome barriers to increasing numbers of public facility retrofits. DOE expects the models serve as "how-to" guides for other states to use as they work to drive demand for energy efficiency retrofits in similar market sectors.

The two cohorts of states are also participating in peer exchanges with each other over the course of their award activities to share ideas, suggestions, and experiences for problem-solving and advancing their retrofit programs.