The built environment is responsible for something like 72% of electricity use and ~36% of greenhouse gas emission in the US.  How to get at that chunk of embedded carbon?

On Monday, the City of San Francisco launched Green Finance SF, the country’s largest Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing program.  The bonding capacity is up to $150 million, though actual size of issuance will depend on property-owner interest.  Both residential and commercial property owners are eligible.

The program finances energy efficiency upgrades, water conservation measures, and solar thermal and solar photovoltaic systems.  In fact, program participants will have to do energy efficiency first before they can use it to go solar.  This approach, known as a loading order, will be required for most such programs in the state, as it’s a condition that the California Energy Commission attached to any program receiving ARRA funds.  This is going to require some new partnerships or adjustments in business models–most solar companies are focused on excuting their core business as efficiently as possible, and are not prepared to start blowing insulation. 

Kudos to SF for taking on a new approach to an age-old problem.  Its one more option–in addition to power purchase agreements, solar leases, and home equity loans–for financing solar systems.  But when it comes to energy efficiency, there are not that many other options currently available.

Got questions?  The Mayor of SF, Gavin Newsom, is doing an on-line town-hall meeting tonight at 6:30