Green Advantage Shifts Focus

GlobeSt by Tony Liou Green Advantage update

Green Advantage Shifts Focus to Incentivize Workforce Housing
by Tony Liou, Partner Energy President

Citing a refocus towards affordable housing, the FHFA eliminated the green lending cap exclusion last fall, leading to uncertainty in the green lending market. Last month, Freddie Mac announced their continued commitment to the success of the Green Advantage program by shifting their focus to workforce housing. Green Advantage offers better pricing and more funds for 7-10 year, fixed-rate loans on workforce housing properties when the borrower commits to energy-saving improvements. The revised program supports the Agency’s affordable housing mission while continuing to incentivize borrowers committing to energy and water conservation measures.

Focus on Workforce Housing

What is workforce housing? Freddie Mac defines workforce housing as a property in which at least 50% of the rents are affordable based on Area Median Income (AMI):

  • 80% AMI in standard markets
  • 100% AMI in cost-burdened renter markets
  • 120% AMI in very cost-burdened renter markets
  • 150% AMI in extremely cost-burdened renter markets

Freddie Mac offers an online Affordability Test to help determine whether your property qualifies.

If you are working on a deal that fits Freddie’s workforce housing definition, be sure to ask about green pricing. The success of the Green Advantage program shows that the targeted savings are achievable, often at a reasonable cost per unit. A qualified energy consultant can help lenders and borrowers find a pathway to closing a green loan, which begins with ordering a green report.

Benefits Include Discount on Green Report, More Funds

Freddie Mac will reimburse up to $4,000 (previously $3,500) for a Green Assessment or Green Assessment Plus Report whether or not the loan qualifies as green—so long as the loan closes with Freddie Mac. In addition, a borrower may underwrite up to 50% of projected owner-paid energy and/or water savings based on a Green Assessment Report and up to 75% of projected owner-paid energy and/or water savings based on a Green Assessment Plus Report.  Interested borrowers with eligible properties must order a green report from a qualified provider.

Two loans are available under the Green Advantage program: Green Up and Green Up Plus, each with slightly different report requirements. Green Up borrowers need a Freddie Mac Green Assessment Report, an ASHRAE Level I energy audit detailing proposed property-level improvements that promote efficiency. The report describes projected savings in terms of utility consumption and dollars saved per improvement item. Green Up Plus borrowers need a Freddie Mac Green Assessment Plus Report, an ASHRAE Level II energy audit that contains a more detailed analysis of projected savings and requires a more in-depth site visit.

Under either loan, the borrower must commit to improvements generating a minimum energy and water consumption savings of 30%, with at least 15% of savings coming from energy. And, both loans require benchmarking through ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager® for the life of the loan. A third-party provider of benchmarking services must be identified prior to close. Choose a qualified provider who can support you post-closing with ongoing benchmarking, specification review, and on-site verification.

Already Green Certified?

Borrowers can also take advantage of discounted pricing on properties that meet the same workforce housing requirements and have one of the following green certifications:

  • EarthCraft, Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association & South Face
  • ENERGY STAR® for Multifamily, EPA
  • ENERGY STAR® for Qualified Multifamily High-Rise, EPA
  • Green Communities, Enterprise Community Partners
  • Green Globes, Green Building Initiative
  • GreenPoint Rated, Build It Green
  • LEED, US Green Building Council
  • National Green Building Standard (NGBS), Home Innovation Research Labs

Great Incentive to Find Cost Savings

Whether planning to go green or not, lenders should consider ordering a green report for their borrowers. With Freddie offering a $4,000 reimbursement towards the cost of the green report, the borrower receives a free or deeply discounted ASHRAE energy audit that outlines recommendations for energy and water conservation. The green report may also be used to direct more energy efficient capital improvements. Additionally, if the property is seeking low income housing tax credit (LIHTC) funding, the state Qualified Allocation Plan may require an energy audit anyway—as is the case in New York and California.

A Green Rebate is available for borrowers who do not pursue Green Up or Green Up Plus and have a multifamily property with more than 20 units. Borrowers receive a $5,000 rebate for reporting an ENERGY STAR® Score. There is no minimum score required to receive the rebate; however, both residential and common area energy data is required to generate an accurate ENERGY STAR® Score.

With Freddie Mac’s Green Advantage program, your borrowers win whether the loan closes green or not. Beyond the benefits of a green loan, owners of efficient properties enjoy lower operating costs, higher resale values, and greater appeal to increasingly demanding tenants. Steer your borrowers towards the Green Advantage program and they will ask you to finance their next project.

This article was published December 19, 2019 on GlobeSt.com.

 

Partner Energy Makes LABJ’s 100 Fastest Growing Private Companies (Again)

Parner Energy is #36 on LABJ 2019 list of Top 100 Fastest Growing Private Companies

For the second straight year, Partner Energy is recognized on the 2019 100 Fastest Growing Private Companies in Los Angeles list by the Los Angeles Business Journal. This year, Partner Energy is listed as #36, as revealed by LABJ at a November 18, 2019 reception.

Partner Energy President Tony Liou noted, “We’re so proud to be recognized by LABJ again for our strong growth. We help clients evaluate and implement energy efficiency and sustainability solutions that meet their business goals. Our focus on client service supports our growth.”

Partner Energy was also included on the 2018 Top 100 list.

 

About Partner Energy, Inc.

Partner Energy, Inc. is a nationwide provider of energy efficiency and sustainability consulting services for existing buildings and new construction. Our team of registered engineers, architects, and certified sustainability professionals provide energy audits, benchmarking studies, green certification and design consulting, and commissioning and retro-commissioning services for thousands of properties around the country each year. We work with building owners and users to increase asset values, lower ownership costs, and promote environmental stewardship. Partner Energy, Inc. is a Small Business Enterprise and a Minority-Owned Business.

About the Rankings

LABJ annually ranks privately held companies headquartered in the greater Los Angeles area based on percentage revenue growth. The 2019 list was released at a November 18 reception held in downtown Los Angeles.

Homes Within Reach awards include 6 projects supported by Partner Energy

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Homes within reach awards Partner Energy senior staff attended and exhibited at the 31st Southern California Association of Non Profit Housing (SCANPH) Annual Conference, held in downtown Los Angeles in late October. SCANPH recognizes excellence in the affordable housing industry through the annual Homes Within Reach Awards. Six of the award winning projects were developed by Partner Energy clients, and we provided energy efficiency and sustainability consulting services on each of these projects. Our congratulations to:

We are proud to have participated in these exceptional affordable housing projects. Partner Energy congratulates all the winners and nominees of the SCANPH 2019 Homes Within Reach Awards.

SCANPH

Tony Liou Speaks About ‘Drivers of Energy Efficiency and Sustainability in CRE’ at LMU Symposium

Drivers of Energy Efficiency and Sustainability in Commercial Real Estate

On October 24, public and private sector leaders in Los Angeles gathered at Loyola Marymount University’s Institute for Business Ethics and Sustainability for The New LA: Climate, Collaboration and Real Estate. The symposium, attended by students and business leaders, provided real-world examples of how Southern California cities, stakeholders, and businesses are responding to challenges posed by a changing climate. In his presentation “Drivers of Energy Efficiency and Sustainability in Commercial Real Estate,” Partner Energy President Tony Liou spoke to the opportunities and challenges of running a business focused on energy efficiency engineering and sustainability consulting services. He pointed to Financing programs, Compliance requirements, and Corporate Policy initiatives as major business drivers of energy efficiency. Mr. Liou explained that these business drivers of energy efficiency work as both ‘carrots’ and as ‘sticks’ to accomplish change.

  • Carrot example: reduced rates, monetary incentives, and easier access to capital for borrowers who commit to reducing energy usage, and/or obtaining a green certification.
  • Stick example: penalties for building owners who do not comply with State, city, or county energy disclosure laws. Fees vary by location, and may range from $200 to over $1M, per property; the State of New York has implemented a New Green Deal with the strongest penalty structure in the country.

Symposium topics included urban resilience, the Green New Deal pLAn in the City of Los Angeles, and sustainability planning in the City of Long Beach. The symposium closed with LMU’s Dr. David Choi speaking on Innovation and Entrepreneurial Creativity, who introduced the audience to several start-up companies creating new solutions for living in a warming climate.

2019 MFE Awards to 2 Affordable Housing Projects Supported by Partner Energy

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2019 MFE Awards to Projects Supported by Partner Energy

Partner Energy supported two affordable housing projects that were recently recognized by winning 2019 MFE Awards. Sponsored by Multifamily Executive, the MFE Awards program shines a spotlight on exceptional people and projects across the nation.

Mosaic Gardens at Westlake wins the 100% Affordable Grand Prize. Congratulations to our nonprofit client LINC Housing. This 125-unit intergenerational community will help address the critical need for affordable housing for low-income, senior, and formerly homeless residents. The development also has a focus on sustainability. Partner Energy’s scope included LEED for Homes Gold certification, energy and water efficient fixtures and drought tolerant landscaping to reduce greenhouse gas emission and provide cost-saving benefits for the residents.

The Lindley, Chevy Chase, Maryland wins the Mixed Income – Merit award. The Montgomery County Housing Opportunities Commission leveraged a new Purple Line light-rail train stop adjacent to its 68-unit low-density and income-restricted property to expand affordable housing opportunities. A public-private partnership created The Lindley, with 200 mixed-income units designed to attract a mix of ages and incomes in a transit-oriented and opportunity-rich neighborhood. Partner Energy supported HUD utility allowances for this project.

Primary Energy Consultant for NYSERDA New Construction

Primary Energy Consultant, NYSERDA New Construction, HERS Rating, Commissioning, Measurement & Verification, Energy Modeling & AnalysisPartner Energy is now an approved Primary Energy Consultant for NYSERDA New Construction Programs, under 4 categories of service:

HERS Rating
Commissioning
Measurement & Verification
Energy Modeling & Analysis

Project owners and developers seeking NYSERDA New Construction program support must engage an approved Primary Energy Consultant listed on the NYSERDA website. All listed firms meet the minimum requirements to provide support services for projects in NYSERDA’s New Construction initiatives.

Earning the Primary Energy Consultant designation demonstrates Partner Energy’s commitment to delivering energy efficiency engineering and sustainability consulting services for clients in the New York region. Partner Energy serves East Coast clients from our offices at One Newark Center in Newark, New Jersey.

NYSERDA supports new construction or gut-rehab of existing spaces for participating builders who construct single-family homes or multi-unit residential projects that meet the New York ENERGY STAR® Certified Homes standard, including homes designed to achieve net-zero energy performance.

Partner Energy provides comprehensive support services throughout a building’s lifecycle. In new construction, we support design review in coordination with architect-engineering firms, provide specification review and bid development, support construction and sustainability review, complete required testing, and perform commissioning and certification support. We are also a nationally recognized ENERGY STAR Partner.

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) offers objective information and analysis, innovative programs, technical expertise, and support to help New Yorkers increase energy efficiency, save money, use renewable energy, and reduce reliance on fossil fuels. A public benefit corporation, NYSERDA has been advancing energy solutions and working to protect the environment since 1975.

SoCalNOMA 2019 Project Pipeline Summer Camp

This summer, more than 100 young people of color came to East LA College to learn about the basics of architecture, engineering, and urban planning at the 2019 Project Pipeline Architecture & Engineering Summer Camp. Partner Energy sponsored this event for the second consecutive year.

Now in its 10th year, Project Pipeline is a national initiative started by the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) to introduce young people of color to architecture. Minorities and people of color currently comprise about 10 percent of licensed architects in America, according to NOMA.

Partner Energy’s Sustainability Director, Lance Collins, is also President of the southern California chapter, SoCalNOMA. Lance participates in Summer Camp activities each year, saying, “Helping young people visualize the possibilities for their future, and the future of their communities, is incredibly rewarding.”

Each year, SoCalNOMA Summer Camp organizers select an exciting, visible project in the campers’ community as the setting for Summer Camp activities. This year’s setting was the Destination Crenshaw outdoor museum project, which includes construction of the new Metro station. Students designed their own buildings for the areas around the Crenshaw Metro line, imagining new gathering places in their changing community. Students visited the project site and met with project representatives to understand how Destination Crenshaw will progress from idea to reality.

On the fourth and final Saturday, the students reconvened at East LA College to present their final projects, and take a tour of the School of Architecture.

Go deeper:

LA Sentinel article

SocalNOMA.org

Partner Energy – LABJ#23 Fastest Growing Private Company

Partner Energy, Inc. a nationwide energy-efficiency engineering company, was named the No. 23 Fastest Growing Private Company in the Los Angeles area in the annual top 100 ranking published by the Los Angeles Business Journal (LABJ).

Partner Energy, Inc.’s two-year revenue growth rate of 100 percent, placed the company in the top quarter of the list.

“We have seen strong growth the past few years, particularly in our Green Lending services and Green Certification consulting. We’ve been engaged by many new clients and expanded the services we provide to many of our current customers,” said Kelsey Shaw, Director and Senior Client Manager. “This reflects our company’s responsiveness to the changing energy-efficiency industry and mirrors the growth seen in Green financing across the country.”

Founded in 2009, Partner Energy, Inc. is an industry leader in the energy efficiency industry.  Partner Energy is known for its expertise in the areas of green financing opportunities, regulatory compliance, building portfolio services, and rebate/incentive programs.

“We are honored and excited to be recognized by the LABJ as one of the fastest-growing privately-held companies in the Los Angeles area. I believe a key to our growth and success has been our unrelenting commitment to our client’s needs and dedication to providing them with quality services that match their efficiency, sustainability and financial goals. As our company continues to grow, we strive to maintain our customer focus and always provide tremendous value to our clients,” stated Partner Energy President and founder, Tony Liou.

About Partner Energy, Inc.

Partner Energy, Inc. is a nationwide provider of energy efficiency and sustainability consulting services for existing buildings and new construction. Our dedicated team of professional engineers, architects, and certified sustainability professionals provide energy audits, benchmarking studies, , green certification and design consulting, and commissioning and retro-commissioning services for thousands of properties around the country each year. We work with building owners and users to increase asset values, lower ownership costs, and promote environmental stewardship. Partner Energy, Inc. is a Small Business Enterprise and a Minority-Owned Business.

About the Rankings

The Los Angeles Business Journal annually ranks the top privately held companies headquartered in the greater Los Angeles area based on percentage revenue growth.  The LABJ released the final rankings at their 22nd annual Fastest Growing Private Company awards held on November 7th at The Reserve in downtown Los Angeles.

FHFA RELEASED NEW GREEN LENDING REQUIREMENTS FOR 2019

The Federal Housing Finance Administration (FHFA) just released new requirements for the 2019 Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Green Lending Programs. The new requirements may increase the implementation cost of these loans for some borrowers. However, with careful consideration of the type and quantity of energy-saving and water-saving measures implemented, this cost can be minimized.

Partner Energy believes that even with these new requirements, the interest savings offered by Green Loans means they are still a favorable financing choice for most clients.

CURRENT 2018 FHA REQUIREMENTS

The 2018 FHFA requirements state that borrowers must achieve EITHER a 25% reduction in energy consumption OR a 25% reduction in water consumption. Most borrowers met this requirement in the most cost-effective way by implementing only water-saving measures – typically upgrading shower heads, faucets, toilets and at times, improving irrigation systems or landscaping.

NEW 2019 FHA REQUIREMENTS

The 2019 FHFA requirements state that borrowers must achieve an overall 30% reduction in energy AND water consumption with a minimum of 15% this reduction coming from energy consumption. Obviously, this means that both energy-savings measures and water-savings measures will need to be implemented to meet lending requirements. Furthermore,  FHFA requires that the borrower engage a third party to help collect and process utility data for use in energy star portfolio manager prior to loan close.

IMPACT TO BORROWERS

The old requirements favored the implementation of water-savings measures alone to meet the 25% consumption reduction requirement. The typical cost of implementation was approximately $300-$500 per unit. A significant amount of that cost usually came from replacing a toilet and the remaining from upgrading shower heads and faucets. Since the new requirements require that at least 15% energy savings is achieved, we anticipate that most borrowers will shift away from toilet replacement ($200-$400 unit) and use those cost-savings to make interior and exterior lighting upgrades (which tend to be the most cost-effective and high-impact energy-saving measure to implement).  While lighting upgrades may be slightly more expensive than toilet upgrades, in the $250-$500/unit range, this increase will be mitigated somewhat by the cost savings of not replacing existing toilets. If it is impossible to achieve a 15% energy savings by only upgrading interior and exterior lighting, borrowers will need to consider other energy-savings measures such as replacing appliances, hot-water heaters, or HVAC systems. Since energy and water savings measures do not have to be implemented in every unit, your energy consultant can advise you on the quantity of units that need to be upgraded to meet the minimum requirements.

SUMMARY

Partner Energy believes that for most borrowers, FHA Green Loans are still a favorable financing opportunity despite the more stringent requirements now in place. That being said, it is more important than ever that borrowers consult with their energy consultant to determine the most cost-effective ways to meet the new requirements for FHA loans given each property’s condition and upgrade budget.