Mayor Signs Legislation Creating GreenFinanceSF

(February 8, 2010)


Innovative Program Will Finance Energy-Efficiency, Water Conservation & Renewable Energy Improvements Repaid through Property Taxes

Mayor Gavin Newsom today signed legislation creating an innovative new program to finance energy-efficiency, renewable energy, water conservation and other environmental improvements to San Francisco residential and commercial buildings. The new "green financing" program would allow home and building owners to fund environmental improvements, with the financing attached to the property and paid back through a special line item on the property tax bill over the life of the improvements.

"This green financing program is going to create green jobs and fuel the next wave of energy and water efficiency and renewable energy development in San Francisco," said Mayor Newsom. "It helps home and property owners overcome the large up-front costs of major environmental improvements to their buildings."

The Mayor's Office, working with Supervisor Eric Mar, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC), the Controller's Office of Public Finance and the Department of Environment, developed an accessible, low-cost loan program that residential and commercial property owners can use to finance environmental-oriented building improvements. The loan program establishes a Citywide Mello-Roos Special Tax District that would be available to finance privately-owned energy efficiency, renewable energy and water conservation improvements. The loan is attached to the property, rather than the individual, and is paid back through property taxes over the life of the loan.

"With almost half of San Francisco's greenhouse gas emissions being produced by our homes and local buildings, this new green financing program will drastically curb San Francisco's carbon footprint and reduce the strain on our regional water supply," said Supervisor Eric Mar. "It will also help put San Franciscans to work through our growing green jobs academies and programs."

It is estimated that 45% of San Francisco's greenhouse gas emissions come from energy used in local buildings. Drought and climate change also threaten regional water supplies and compel greater water conservation. Even with tax breaks and traditional loan arrangements, many local home and building owners cannot support the upfront investment for environmental improvements that pay for themselves over time.

"As we have seen with the success of GoSolarSF, our solar energy incentive program, San Franciscans will seize the opportunity to make their homes and buildings greener if we create the right incentives and make targeted investments," Newsom added.