Energy Savings Financing For Small Businesses

Small building and small business owners have a big opportunity for energy savings. Buildings smaller than 50,000 ft2 account for 95% of U.S. commercial building stock by number, 51% of the total floor space, and consume nearly 3 quadrillion Btu annually (equivalent to 44% of U.S. commercial building energy use). Small buildings often house small businesses. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), in 2010, there were 27.9 million small businesses in the U.S.

Given the fragmented nature of the small building community, achieving energy savings in mass is no easy task. Many small building and small business owners face several barriers that inhibit them from achieving energy savings. Those barriers include (1) limited capital for energy efficiency measures, (2) higher transaction costs relative to energy cost savings, (3) lack of time to research and implement energy efficiency solutions, (4) split incentive obstacles between owners and tenants, and (5) lack of user-friendly, sector specific resources and technologies.

DOE, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), and NREL have worked together to create and deploy sector-specific, easy-to-use resources that help small businesses make effective decisions about energy efficiency as they use SBA loan programs to finance building improvement projects. The resources include two four-page guides that help small businesses and SBA lenders understand the energy and non-energy benefits of energy-efficiency investments and provides information about contractor and auditor qualifications, low- and no-cost energy savings opportunities, the decision process for energy-efficiency upgrades, additional resources to help make energy-efficiency decisions, information about incentive programs, and detailed information about SBA Loan programs that are appropriate for building improvement projects. A presentation explaining the guides is also available.

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