The program will help the city’s
estimated 226 million square feet of
large commercial buildings
become among the country's
most energy and water efficient.

SAN FRANCISCO-San Francisco has launched a green financing program to help its estimated 226 million square feet of large commercial buildings become among the country’s most energy and water efficient. Buildings consume 40% of the nation’s energy use, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

The Port of San Francisco’s historic property at Pier 1, the corporate headquarters of Prologis Inc., will be the first energy efficiency upgrade funded through the city’s GreenFinanceSF program that uses Property-Assessed Clean Energy bond financing. Johnson Controls will design and implement the project.

PACE financing helps building owners access capital for a wide range of energy upgrades that can pay for themselves with reduced operating costs. San Francisco established its PACE district in 2010 and was one of the first U.S. cities to launch an “open market” PACE program last year, making $100 million in bonding capacity available to the city’s commercial property owners, according to a prepared statement. The city recently joined a new statewide alliance among 14 California counties and 126 cities to help attract owners and lenders to take advantage of the benefits PACE brings.

“Since buildings contribute 53% of greenhouse gas emissions in San Francisco, it is essential that we address inefficiencies in the built environment,” says Melanie Nutter, director of the San Francisco Department of the Environment. “Projects like this exemplify the successful combination of our policies and programs to both reduce emissions and help save businesses money.”

As more businesses take similar action, she says, “we’ll continue to grow our economy while decreasing carbon emissions to help ward off the worst effects of climate change.”

Johnson Controls expects the retrofit project at Pier 1 to reduce annual energy costs by over $98,000 and reduce purchased energy by 32%. Upgrades include retrofits for 1,500 lighting fixtures, a 200-kilowatt rooftop solar array and improvements to the building’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.

During its construction phase, the project is expected to create nearly 30 local jobs and $3.7 million in additional economic development in California, based on multipliers developed by the US Department of Commerce.

The project cost is approximately $1.6 million, of which 90% is being funded by PACE bonds.