SF proposes program to green residential buildings

San Francisco city officials say they are prepared to launch GreenFinanceSF, a program that will help owners of buildings with four units or fewer pay for the installation of energy-efficient, solar-energy systems and water conservation improvements.

Supervisor Mark Farrell and Mayor Ed Lee announced Tuesday their intent to launch what is a voluntary Property Assessed Clean Energy financing program that allows participants to obtain financing for approved efficiency projects and make payments through property taxes for up to a 20-year period. A similar program is currently in place in Sonoma and Riverside counties.

The program for residential homeowners was suspended in 2010 when the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, raised concerns over the PACE financing. But Gov. Jerry Brown announced last month a state reserve fund to address the agency’s concerns and offset any losses to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac related to PACE financing.

The local effort is expected to require contractors who perform the work to use local hiring, which would boost the efforts of San Francisco CityBuild Academy, a training program that helps prepare residents for entry-level jobs.

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