Capacity, Cognizance, Confidence, and Capital: How Green Banks Are Driving Energy Efficiency Improvements in Affordable Housing

Issue Brief
November 29, 2018

Sufficient availability of affordable housing is a significant and growing concern across the world, in high-income and lower-income countries alike. Governments at all levels are feeling the urgency of driving construction and preservation of affordable housing. As market-oriented and mission-driven financial entities, green banks are well positioned to help affordable housing owners take advantage of the many benefits of high-efficiency building design and operation.

Affordable housing property owners and operators frequently report four major obstacles in pursuing high energy performance in a property, regardless of whether that property is nearing a major financing event or is mid-cycle. They are:

  • capacity: limited staff time to explore and pursue seemingly complex and noncritical projects;
  • cognizance: limited awareness of and familiarity with energy efficiency opportunities, and thus limited comfort managing a project involving them;
  • confidence: limited exposure to information on the various benefits of successful projects; and
  • capital: limited availability of capital reserves or affordable financing options to bring projects to fruition once they are designed.

This brief examines each of these obstacles and describes the ways in which green bank products and staff can help owners to manage efficiency projects despite these challenges.