One city in upstate New York has found a novel means to help decarbonize thousands of commercial and residential buildings. The City of Ithaca raised $100 million through private investors to help reach its goal of offsetting carbon emissions by 2030. In 2019, Ithaca adopted a Green New Deal to demonstrate its commitment to sustainability, social equity and climate action. An important step within the plan was retrofitting buildings to reduce carbon emissions, including the installation of electric heating systems, solar panels and battery storage. While there are state-run incentive programs in place to encourage the transition to clean energy, they tend to be lengthy and complicated processes for building owners. To speed up the implementation of sustainable building technology, Ithaca sought the help of private investors to create a low- or no-interest lending program. Building owners will be able to pay back the loan through utility bill savings. Since buildings make up nearly 40% of US carbon emissions, faster uptake of sustainable technologies is needed to initiate transformative climate action.
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