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A dollar invested today in energy efficiency saves three dollars in future energy costs.


The objective of the Green Capital is to act as a catalyst for the deployment of $1B in third-party financed energy efficiency retrofit transactions by 2015.


A successful energy efficiency strategy will leverage the best global practices of policy-makers (benchmarking ordinances, assessment finance districts, credit enhancements), technologists (creating simple ways of auditing, commissioning, and optimizing), financiers (providing debt and equity to new asset classes), entrepreneurs (creating new energy efficiency structures like Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE), Energy Savings Agreements (ESA), EE Power Purchase Agreements (EEPPA), third-party on-bill repayment (OBR)), and non-profits who can catalyze investment into projects and aggregate demand.

Carbon War Room success in the built environment will be defined by $1B of private capital being delivered into scalable and replicable energy efficiency projects by 2015 and $10B worth of capital by 2020. For the Carbon War Room to declare success, this capital would not have flowed into these projects without the direct efforts of the Carbon War Room’s energy efficiency team.

Since the commencement of the “Green Capital Global Challenge” in February 2010, the Carbon War Room has attempted to stimulate the global market for retrofits by:

Consortia Development

Utilizing our existing relationships, we have created industry-led consortia of financial, technology, engineering, and insurance partners who can address specific segments of the market.

Finance Mechanism Accelerated

In working as an intermediary between large asset owners and capital providers, we have identified best-in-class new off-balance financial structures that will result in lower-risk high yield value proposition for both entities. We published a report on vendor-financed solutions and are in the process publishing a comprehensive guide to finance, policy, and technology.

Demand Aggregation

The Green Capital team has hosted several strategic convenings in which turnkey financial, technology, or insurance solutions have presented to large-scale asset owners; this “EE Harmony” function reduces the transactional and business development costs for presenters while giving asset owners confidence that such solutions are best-in-class, as they have been vetted by an independent non-profit. Previous forums include Deal Days and Mobilize Massachusetts.

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The buildings in which we live, work, and play are globally responsible for over nine billion tons of man-made carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions each year, as reported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Emissions from buildings – including electricity use – are responsible for over 20% of global CO2e output annually. Fortunately, solutions and technologies exist today that can increase energy efficiency, reduce demand, and optimize building systems.


Given that a majority of humans now live in cities, tackling urban building emissions makes logical sense. in energy efficiency upgrades for existing buildings, paybacks of months to a few years, stimulate low-carbon economic recovery and growth within our cities. In the US alone, there are over 120 million homes and more than 5 million commercial buildings, presenting an investment opportunity somewhere between $400-$960 billion. The PACE market, which includes commercial real estate, has been valued at $500 billion.

Reduced operating costs via energy efficiency savings can generate climate wealth when those savings are capitalized. Investment in energy efficiency creates jobs for contractors construction workers, and other building professionals. Energy efficiency represents an investment opportunity that also creates a low-carbon, sustainable, and energy-secure future.

The challenge we face today is to overcome the systemic challenges inhibiting significant investment into energy efficiency retrofits.

Key Leverage Points

While energy efficiency has been the “low hanging fruit” for more than 30 years – apart from ESCO and government-funded initiatives --- energy efficiency has not lived up to its potential due to:

Lack of Upfront Capital & Split Incentives

Building owners often lack the balance sheet to secure additional capital for retrofits; procuring additional debt can trigger mortgage covenants resulting in default. Landlords lack the financial incentives to make upgrades to buildings that tenants benefit from.

Demand Aggregation

Capital providers such as banks and private equity firms only invest in large-scale ($50M+) deals; unfortunately, many cities and/or asset owners are only interested in “pilot” or small-scale projects.

Reactive Thinking

Many building owners do not do preventative maintenance, rather choosing to replace big-ticket building components like chillers and boilers when they break; this results in ad hoc improvements that fail to holistically consider a building’s energy profile and the opportunity to do a comprehensive retrofit

Fragmented Landscape

Unlike other sectors like shipping and aviation which have a relatively small fleet of standardized ships/planes, the global building sector is defined by heterogeneity. Two buildings that were built at the same time with the same materials can have vastly different energy profiles; developing standardized products that can scale across building sectors remains an illusive proposition.

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At the Vancouver Olympics in 2010, the Carbon War room launched a three-year challenge to help cities around the world use innovative mechanisms to bring capital, energy technologies, and jobs to their communities in a sustainable and wealth-creating way. Operation Green Capital is designed to accelerate the implementation of scalable, replicable efficiency and generation technology solutions employing innovative financial mechanisms.

City Relationships

The Carbon War Room has established a relationship with over 30 global cities including: New York, San Francisco, Washington DC, Toronto, Vancouver, London, and Copenhagen as well as smaller cities like Wellington NZ and Burlington VT with the intention of identifying the best mechanisms for the deployment of capital into energy efficiency programs. CWR is uniquely positioned to create replicable case studies that can serve as templates for peer cities across the globe.

Financial Consortium

As an entrepreneurial non-profit, the Carbon War Room partners with industry leaders to drive market-based solutions. Our first example of such a consortia is our PACE Commercial Consortium (PCC) – an amalgamation of Ygrene Energy Fund, Energi, Hannover Re, Lockheed Martin, and Barclays bank that resulted in the cities of Miami and Sacramento launching commercial retrofit programs with $650M available for deployment. The Carbon War Room is in the process of creating additional consortia around other sectors of the built environment.

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There is no Planet B™
Carbon War Room in association with Elsevier Biofuel TechSelect Go to the Carbon War Room website