p_blog_houston-skylineAnnouncement from The City of Houston : On January 6, 2010, the City of Houston, in partnership with the GeoTechnology Research Institute/Houston Advanced Research Center (GTRI/HARC) and the Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI), launched the City’s first energy efficiency incentive program for commercial buildings. The Energy Efficiency Incentive Program (EEIP) will provide a financial incentive to help office building owners, property managers and tenants located in the City of Houston to reduce energy consumption and increase the economic performance of their building. The EEIP is supported with funding from the Department of Energy (DOE) Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG).

“The Energy Efficiency Incentive Program is an unprecedented opportunity for commercial building owners and managers to actively engage in the city-wide sustainability strategy – to make Houston a greener, cleaner and healthier place for ourselves and future Houstonians,” said Mayor Annise Parker. “The energy efficiency projects completed as part of this program will significantly reduce energy consumption, save money, create green jobs and help buildings achieve their sustainability goals.”

To significantly reduce Houston’s emissions of greenhouse gases and criteria air pollutants, the City is creating realistic strategies and programs, particularly in the building and transportation sectors (which combined contribute over 85 percent of the City’s emissions).

“We are confident this program will energize and begin to unlock the potential of the Houston building energy efficiency retrofit market,” said Laura Spanjian, Mayor Parker’s Director of Sustainability.

The EEIP, an initiative of the recently launched Green Office Challenge, will demonstrate the utility cost savings achievable from the use of energy saving retrofits and/or operating methods in Houston’s commercial office buildings.  The City of Houston will commit approximately $3 million from its EECBG as seed funding for the program.  Eligible businesses and building owners may apply for funding to make permanent energy efficiency improvements to reduce utility expenses and greenhouse gases.

A certified energy manager must perform an energy audit and make energy conservation recommendations that will, at a minimum, project a 15 percent energy savings in order to be eligible for the program.  The City is encouraging a further “stretch” goal of 30 percent energy savings through its Green Office Challenge initiative.  The City will provide incentives to offset 20 percent of the up-front implementation costs (labor and materials), with the incentive ranging from $20,000 to $200,000 maximum per building upon completion of the project.

At least 60 percent of the total grant incentive awards will be set aside for projects under $500,000 and 50 percent of the grant incentive awards will be set aside for Class B and C buildings.  Depending on the energy efficiency retrofit work, the balance of the up-front implementation costs are expected to be reimbursed to the building owners through the reductions in the applicant’s utility costs within 18 to 48 months following implementation.  The City will be measuring these savings through the end of the grant period and extrapolate the savings shown to determine the payback period.

EEIP applications can be downloaded from the Green Office Challenge website: www.houstongoc.org. For other information on green to many other governmental agencies, non-profits, and private organizations go to www.greenhoustontx.gov.