Michael Zimmer

Michael Zimmer

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Voinovich School Executive in Residence co-authors reports for National Institute of Building Sciences

Recommendations will be made on Capitol Hill

A report co-authored by Ohio University Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs Executive in Residence Michael Zimmer about the financing of small commercial retrofit projects for energy efficiency was presented at Building Innovation: National Institute of Building Sciences' Third Annual Conference & Expo in Washington D.C. on Tuesday, Jan. 6. Zimmer also serves as an executive in residence within the Russ College of Engineering.

The report was created by the NIBS Council on Finance, Insurance and Real Estate, of which Zimmer is a member, and identified several barriers to investment in small commercial retrofits, including the costs and complexity associated with relatively small loan sizes.

Conservatively estimated as a $35.6 billion market, investments in small building retrofits could yield the nation an estimated 424,000 job years of full-time employment and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 87 million metric tons a year. The report also found that small building retrofits would improve the resilience of the nation’s built environment and take pressure off the aging electric grid.

"Energy efficiency is always the cheapest form of new supply,” said Zimmer. “It also fosters many jobs for audits and installation, and uses many products produced by Ohio manufacturers. The lessons learned in small finance will help development of demand management, microgrids, resilience and distributed generation. When combined, these energy markets will dwarf energy efficiency.”

The report will be distributed on Capitol Hill and will be the subject of several briefings in which Zimmer hopes to participate.

The report made several recommendations which will be discussed during an upcoming webinar hosted by the NIBS' Council on Finance, Insurance and Real Estate from 1 to 2 p.m., Tuesday, March 10. The findings and recommendations are aimed at government, retrofit providers and building owners, and identify existing programs that successfully support retrofits for small commercial buildings. Significant opportunities presented by this segment of the industry will be discussed during the webinar.

To view the report in its entirety, click here.

Recommendations in the report include the following:

  • Federal programs should be expanded and deployed to facilitate state and local energy retrofit financing efforts.
  • Federal policy should encourage the development and testing of energy retrofit programs at the individual city, county or utility level.
  • Public-private energy retrofit approaches should be encouraged in federal policy making.
  • Federal, state and community policy makers should recognize local and property-level variations in designing energy efficiency programs that serve small businesses and others.
  • Policymakers should leverage national Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey data, as well as the growing quantity of voluntary and mandatory benchmarking and disclosure programs, to create more meaningful building performance databases.
  • Utilities should be required to provide energy consumption data to property owners and tenants, including aggregate building level data for properties in which tenants are separately metered.
  • Public policies and programs should be designed to anticipate the future aggregation of energy retrofit loans into bonds, and to provide the basis for appropriate loan documentation.

About the National Institute of Building Sciences

The National Institute of Building Sciences is a non-profit, non-governmental organization that successfully brings together representatives of government, the professions, industry, labor and consumer interests, and regulatory agencies to focus on the identification and resolution of problems and potential problems that hamper the construction of safe, affordable structures for housing, commerce and industry throughout the United States.

Authorized by the U.S. Congress, the Institute provides an authoritative source and a unique opportunity for free and candid discussion among private and public sectors within the built environment. The Institute's mission to serve the public interest is accomplished by supporting advances in building sciences and technologies for the purpose of improving the performance of the nation's buildings while reducing waste and conserving energy and resources.