Burlingame Launches Water- and Energy-Efficiency HERO Program for Local Homeowners

Financing paid through property taxes helps residents install drought-tolerant landscaping, water-efficient appliances, solar panels, energy-saving windows and more

SAN MATEO COUNTY, Calif. – The City Council of Burlingame launched the HERO Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Program today. HERO PACE financing enables homeowners to make energy- and water-efficiency improvements and pay for them through their property tax bill. Property owners repay the assessment over 5 to 20 years while obtaining immediate savings on utility bills. Residents of Burlingame may now submit applications for HERO financing.

Given the State of California’s newly-adopted regulations aimed at reducing urban water consumption by 25 percent, PACE financing is becoming a particularly appealing option for homeowners looking to conserve water in their yards and homes.

Burlingame joins ten other San Mateo County municipalities in offering HERO to its residents, including Daly City, Foster City, Menlo Park, Redwood City, San Bruno, San Carlos, San Mateo, South San Francisco, Woodside, and the County of San Mateo for residents of unincorporated areas. All told, more than 460,000 households in the county now have access to this innovative financing program.

As California’s drought drags on, eligible retrofits give homeowners a fast, affordable way to lower water bills and conserve a desperately-needed resource. HERO has a wide variety of products to help homeowners save water, including high-efficiency toilets, faucets and showerheads; drip irrigation systems; rainwater catchment systems; gray water systems; and artificial turf and other drought-tolerant landscaping.

A wide variety of energy-saving products are available through HERO as well, including solar panel installations, whole-home heating and cooling systems, energy-saving windows and doors, roofing and insulation.

HERO has helped fund more than 43,000 residential efficiency projects totaling more than $877 million in financing in California. By stimulating home renovation activity, the HERO Program increases demand for local contractor services. HERO is estimated to have spurred the creation of more than 7,400 jobs in California since beginning in December 2011. Cities and counties benefit through economic stimulus and local job growth while helping their communities reach state-imposed water and energy savings goals.

HERO’s ongoing contribution to the environment is significant and growing daily. Water-efficiency projects that HERO has helped finance to date will save 1.4 billion gallons of water, or the equivalent of 44 million showers. An estimated 5.7 billion kWhs of energy are already being saved by projects completed to date. This is equivalent to the CO2 emissions from 35,000 homes’ energy use for a year.

HERO’s consumer protection policy sets the industry standard for PACE financing, and offers more consumer protections than any kind of lending for home improvements, such as credit cards, HELOCs or other consumer loans. HERO requires contractors to: be licensed with the state, insured, and in good standing with HERO; obtain all required permits; meet fair pricing standards; and use products certified as energy efficient by the U.S. Department of Energy or water conserving by the Environmental Protection Agency. HERO-qualified contractors undergo extensive training aimed at ensuring customers are fully informed about the costs and benefits of the HERO Program. Finally, contractors are paid only when the homeowner signs off that the job has been successfully completed. HERO also staffs a hotline to respond to homeowner queries: 800-720-HERO.

The HERO Program has now been adopted by 344 communities in California and is available to more than 10.5 million households.

“This is a great opportunity for homeowners who want to go solar, or install other efficiency products, but who couldn’t previously finance the up-front costs.” said Blair McNeill, Vice President of Community Development for Renovate America, the company that administers the HERO Program. “With HERO these up-front financing barriers are removed.”

Cities and counties need only pass a resolution to make PACE programs like HERO available to local property owners. The HERO Program has received numerous awards, including the Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award, the Urban Land Institute Best of the Best and the Southern California Association of Governments President’s Award for Excellence. Taking part in HERO is 100 percent voluntary for both jurisdictions and property owners. PACE financing is cost neutral to participating local governments.

To learn more about the HERO Financing Program, and to apply, property owners can visit www.HEROProgram.com.

West Coast Commercial Real Estate News