Renew Boston Trust (RBT) is using energy performance contracting to finance not only energy efficiency upgrades but also resilience measures that tend to not yield savings on their own in an effort to both mitigate CO2 emissions and boost adaptation capabilities.

Boston has launched the Renew Boston Trust in an effort to improve energy efficiency and resilience upgrades in the city’s building stock by using a self-funded financing model. The system builds upon the idea of energy performance contracting, in which energy savings are used to finance investments. With RBT, operating savings from energy efficiency and renewable energy measures pay not only for those investments, but excess savings pay for resilience investments, which traditionally do not produce operating savings by themselves.

While the current program primarily targets municipal properties, RBT is working to apply innovative financing models to the institutional and non-profit sector as well, via a tax-exempt lease program that would aggregate small projects, allowing non-profits to reduce upfront costs and improve financing through economies of scale. When implemented, the expanded RBT is expected to achieve a 10-fold increase in funding for energy efficiency and resilience projects and accelerate achievement of the city’s Climate Action Plan emissions reduction goals.

80% reduction in CO2 by 2050 to be realized in part by actions taken under the program

The challenge

Financing essential municipal infrastructure upgrades via taxes is increasingly difficult in the face of other pressing social needs. Even so, the levels of resilience and energy efficient investment required are significant, especially for coastal cities like Boston that are vulnerable to severe weather and sea level rise. The RBT uses a tried-and-true model to fund improvements to critical-but-underserved projects.


Economic The expansion of projects under RBT will expand the green-collar workforce needed to carry out resilience and energy efficiency improvements.

Environmental The resilience upgrades funded by RBT can make properties and communities less vulnerable to rising sea levels and increased storm activity.

Health The retrofit projects often result in improved indoor air quality that reduces respiratory health hazards.

Social Given the negative impact of high operating costs on housing, expanding self-funded investment in property upgrades, without burdening the operating budget, aims to make affordable housing more widely available.

About Boston

Boston is the capital and most populous city of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the United States. The city is the economic and cultural anchor of a substantially larger metropolitan area known as Greater Boston and this wider commuting region is home to some 8.2 million people, making it the sixth-largest in the United States. The area’s many colleges and universities make Boston an international center of higher education, including law, medicine, engineering, and business, and the city is considered to be a world leader in innovation and entrepreneurship, with nearly 2,000 start-ups. The city has one of the highest costs of living in the United States as it has undergone gentrification, though it remains high on world livability rankings.

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