At EnergyFit Nevada’s recent Downtown open house, guests swirled around a table overflowing with goodies from Baguette Café. In an adjacent room was another treat, albeit one less appealing to the taste buds: a 47-page commissioned report from local analysis firm RCG Economics. The findings detail the energy-efficiency industry’s potential positive impact on Nevada if—and it’s a big if—the state and banks can come together to create more financing options to help residents retrofit.
Pulling from census data and average retrofit costs, RCG estimates the potential market for improving the energy efficiency of Nevada’s homes and commercial buildings at $6 billion. But with the energy-efficiency financing market in its infancy, investors have been reluctant to pool their money with state subsidies. Yet the report lists a veritable cornucopia of advantages if more people gain access to financing, including more consumer spending, more jobs, a reduction in state energy consumption and environmental improvements.
EnergyFit Nevada hopes these findings will broker more collaboration and attract private capital. In addition to educating homeowners about existing tax incentives and rebates, the nonprofit provides financing through a partnership with the sustainability nonprofit Green Chips, with loans of up to $7,500, a number they’d like to increase. However, most people don’t know either program exists.
In four years, EnergyFit has grown from two employees to nine, with a satellite office in Reno. So far this year, the organization helped 405 homes across the state see a 20 percent savings in energy costs. “Getting the word out has been our biggest challenge,” says Denee Evans, executive director of EnergyFit Nevada. “People can come to us if they’re going to make improvements, and we can help them understand how to do them in an energy-efficient manner.”
EnergyFit, which presently only accepts residential clients, doesn’t just talk the talk: The group is in discussions with its landlord about doing an efficiency retrofit at its own new headquarters on Third Street, the former First United Methodist Church.