Friday, April 22, 2011

Arkansas Appropriates $20 Million for the Sustainable Building Design Program

One of the hidden victories for the sustainable building community that emerges from the last session of the Arkansas legislature is a significant appropriation of up to $20,000,000 to the Arkansas Sustainable Building Program.

The Sustainable Building Program is administered by the Arkansas Building Authority and was established in 2009. It is a loan program, funded through a revolving fund, designed to assist Arkansas agencies, boards, and commissions to make energy efficiency upgrades and renovations to state owned facilities.
Here are the basic contours of the Program:
  • The agency, board, or commission seeking funding must be authorized by law to make renovations to state owned facilities.
  • The renovations or improvements must exceed $250,000.00.
  • To qualify for funding as a sustainable building design project, the state-owned facility must be a facility of the requesting agency and must be designed, renovated, and certified pursuant to the Arkansas Energy Office’s requirements of the “The Sustainable Energy-Efficient Building Program,” which, in broad strokes, establishes a performance criteria of a 10% reduction in baseline energy consumption.
  • The loans carry an origination fee of .5%, up to $2,500.00, per loan.
  • The maximum term of a loan is 10 years.
  • The Program only applies to capital improvements for existing buildings and not for new construction.
Eligible renovations and upgrades include weatherization, improvement or increase in insulation, replacement of doors, windows, and skylights, upgrades in lighting technology, replacement of heating, ventilation, heat recovery, steam system, or air conditioning systems, improvements to energy control systems and sensors, and other energy efficiency projects that will result in a significant reduction in the consumption of energy within a building. Significantly, costs for equipment or systems that reduce energy costs without reducing energy consumption are not eligible.

As noted above, the Program is designed to work in connection with the Sustainable Energy-Efficient Buildings Program, which is a program that promotes energy conservation in buildings owned by public agencies and institutions of higher education.

In the view of this sustainablawger, the Sustainable Building and the Sustainable Energy-Efficient Buildings Programs show Arkansas “leading by example” and represent a public policy that promotes sustainable building practices. The programs will also provide much needed economic and political support for Arkansas’ emerging sustainable building industry.

Only time will tell if these programs are actually sufficient to achieve these goals. But it is abundantly clear that one of the main impediments in promoting sustainable energy development and consumption has been gap in financing. For state agencies, the Sustainable Building Program holds real promise both for filling that gap.

(Department of Citation: the Sustainable Building Program can be found in the Arkansas Code Annotated at section 22-3-1901 et seq., and the Sustainable Energy-Efficient Buildings Program can be found at section 22-3-2001 et seq.)
(Department of Rules and Regulations: the Arkansas Building Authority’s July 2010 Sustainable Building Design Program Procedures can be found at

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