Eco-Friendly Financing

An energy-efficiency lending program is now open to small businesses and nonprofits in Western North Carolina. Self-Help Credit Union announced that its Energy Loan Fund has dedicated $15 million to help small businesses, schools and other qualified borrowers to retrofit their buildings, improve efficiency and lower utility bills.

“It’s exciting to have it come to WNC,” says Jane Hatley, Self-Help’s WNC regional director for the program. “This makes it possible for people to get more affordable funding to do energy improvements on their facility.”

Self-Help’s green loans program started in 2011, but was limited to the Charlotte area. Bank of America provided seed funding of $5.5 million, which allowed the credit union to launch the program, Hatley explains. Projects that would be eligible under the Energy Loan Fund include heating, cooling, ventilation, lighting, plumbing and even solar power.

The funds are targeted specifically for multifamily housing, small businesses, commercial real estate, child care centers, charter schools and churches, according to a press release. Priority is given to projects benefiting people with low incomes and businesses in underserved communities.

Brian Schneiderman, Self-Help’s director of commercial lending, says the program will measure the community impact in order to “provide lessons for future energy efficiency activity, especially in low-wealth communities where the need is so critical.”

Qualified borrowers will benefit in several ways, such as a loan interest-rate reduction of 1.5 percentage points, assistance from lenders, discounted energy audits and lower energy bills.

In total, Self-Help reports that it has loaned about $64 million to sustainability-related businesses and projects, which includes Asheville-based businesses like Blue Ridge Biofuels and FLS Energy.

For more information, visit self-help.org/greenloans or contact Melissa Malkin-Weber, Green Initiatives manager, at 919-956-4406.

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