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Jul. 26, 2013

Boston Multifamily Specialist Kicks Off Energy-Efficiency Program

By Dees Stribling, Contributing Editor

Boston—WinnCompanies has launched Open Market ESCO, a pilot program that will finance energy-efficient retrofits for an estimated 1,200 units of low-income housing and allow property owners to pay for the upgrades through reduced energy costs. The program is in collaboration with the Local Initiatives Support Corp. (LISC), and was established in part with a $5.25 million grant from HUD’s Energy Innovation Fund. LISC, a nonprofit working to revitalize low-income communities, is providing an $8 million loan to support the effort.

All together, HUD has awarded nearly $23 million to a dozen organizations whose expertise will allow them to bring energy-saving techniques to the housing market. Of all the grantees, WinnCompanies received the largest award. WinnCompanies’ Open Market ESCO program will begin operations in Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York City, and will provide property owners with energy conservation services for a span of 12 to 15 years.

To qualify for the program, low-income housing developments must have the potential to save at least 20 percent on their energy costs. Under the program, property owners won’t take on new debt or incur the upfront costs typically be associated with retrofit projects. Instead, the costs are covered by monthly energy savings, with a portion of savings being shared with property owners.

The goal of the program is to develop strategies to improve existing HUD programs, as well as institute industry standards, a spokeswoman for WinnCompanies tells MHN. The fund will also create new financing tools for reductions in energy consumption, operating costs, and the carbon footprint of both affordable and market-rate housing.

Other financial support for the program is being provided by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, Connecticut’s Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority and the New York City Energy Efficiency Corp. Winn will be partnering with Energi Insurance Services Inc., which will provide the Open Market ESCO with Energy Savings Warranty insurance designed to backstop the guaranteed energy savings per-project, as well as Bright Power Inc. and other engineering firms for technical assistance.

Boston-based WinnCompanies is a no stranger to sustainable multifamily. Its Oliver Lofts and Castle Square Apartments in Boston were recently awarded LEED for Homes Multifamily Platinum. Oliver Lofts also recently won an Achievement in Sustainability award as part of the National Housing & Rehabilitation Association’s J. Timothy Anderson Awards for Excellence in Historic Rehabilitation and the Rental Housing Association award for Best Green Project.

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