Bringing energy savings to public-purpose buildings

March 12, 2019 | In the News

Featured image

Virginia Community Capital (VCC) and Vermont-based Commons Energy, which is expanding operations this year to Virginia, are partnering to bring sustainable energy sources and cost savings to small and community-oriented buildings with a public purpose.

Under terms of the partnership, VCC and Commons Energy will form a “one-stop shop” for municipal and community buildings, healthcare facilities, schools and educational centers, and affordable housing projects considering implementing energy-improvement projects. VCC and Commons Energy will offer an energy and risk assessment, technical assistance in designing a comprehensive energy saving solution, and financing.

Commons Energy is a type of public-purpose energy services company – a PPESCO – that partners with small and medium-sized buildings serving public needs. PPESCOs like Commons Energy operate on a smaller scale than typical energy services companies, making energy savings—not dollars—their bottom line for improvements to buildings in affordable multifamily housing, education, health care, and municipalities.

“As a mission-focused financial institution that believes clean energy is our future from both a sustainability aspect and a job-creation standpoint, partnering with Commons Energy helps us achieve our goal of creating more vibrant communities,” says Bill Greenleaf, senior vice president of Virginia Community Capital. He also leads the organization’s Clean Energy lending initiatives. “Our partnership with Commons Energy will provide many of Virginia’s public-purpose buildings guaranteed energy savings and give them the technical help needed to design comprehensive renewable energy systems.”

The Process

Candidate buildings, which have annual energy and water bills of $50,000 or more, go through a qualification process that begins with a review of current energy and water consumption, and a quick assessment of critical facts. VCC’s partnership with Commons Energy will help with technical assistance – such as project evaluation, assessment of alternative energy sources, cost estimates, and system design and engineering – as well as access to capital with terms and rates sufficient to enable energy savings and positive cash flow.

Commons Energy maintains relationships with building owners, managers, and occupants for consistent maintenance and upkeep of the system. In Vermont, Commons Energy has helped buildings reduce energy consumption and install pellet-fueled biomass heating, biomass boilers, solar panel systems, upgraded thermal shells, and more.

“Our partnership with VCC and our entry into Virginia will not only benefit our client buildings, but the communities they serve by passing energy savings on to the public. This allows public-purpose buildings to focus on their mission, while creating a more sustainable energy future,” says Matt Dooley, Director of Commons Energy. “We look forward to growing together as partners, and working towards a greater network of energy savers in the Commonwealth.”