By Ivan Torres
Special to The Sentinel
BETHESDA – The Montgomery County Green Bank, a nonprofit created by the county, brought together several of its partners to celebrate the completion as a significant energy savings project in Bethesda on Dec. 12.
The Green Bank, located in the Glascock Office Building in Barlow Place, was authorized by actions of the Montgomery County Council in 2015, when County Executive Marc Elrich was a Montgomery County Council member. It was fully funded in April 2019 with $25 million in capital provided from settlement money that came to the county from the 2016 acquisition of Pepco Holdings, Inc. by Exelon Corp.
“The Green Bank is dedicated to accelerating affordable clean energy and energy efficiency investment in Montgomery County,” said Elrich. “We are committed to combating climate change and reversing the impact of the climate emergency we are now under. We know that this effort will require many plans and strategies. The Green Bank is one of those that is quickly making an impact.”
It becomes one of only a dozen green banks of any kind in the nation.
“The Green Bank was founded on the principles of capital leverage, collaboration and partnerships. We’re chartered by the county to grow a clean energy market, not by ourselves but serving as a business partner with others to accelerate clean energy investment and action in the county,” said Tom Deyo, CEO of the Green Bank. “Our function is to help the county reach its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by supporting more projects and more energy savings.”
The Green Bank’s first offering is the Commercial Loan for Energy Efficiency and Renewables (CLEER) program. The CLEER program operates in partnership with national and local lenders, including Revere Bank.
Members of the community, including county council members, weighed in on the project during the grand opening. Adriana Hochberg, Climate Change Coordinator for Montgomery County, stated, “to obtain our target of zero emissions by 2035, we are going to need buildings in the rest of the county to undertake the type of retrofits that were done here in this building.”
The CLEER program bridges a financing gap in several areas, including energy efficiency, solar photovoltaic (PV) and energy storage projects throughout the county. By closing in, the program can help start projects in the office, retail, light industrial, common ownership and multifamily rental properties. While using Green Bank funds to provide risk-mitigation for its partner lenders, the program also creates value for property owners through energy savings and reduced operating costs.
A significant part of the Glascock project was to replace a large heating and cooling (HVAC) system unit on the roof. It was the final big investment that the building needed to achieve its full energy savings plan. The building also has had extensive other energy efficiency work done over the past year, including improvements to lighting, building envelope and ductwork.
The new HVAC system will save 17 percent more energy than the prior system. In total, the Glascock building will now annually save more than 850,000-kilowatt hours of energy and $110,000 in lower operating—while eliminating 600 tons of greenhouse gas emissions. Recurrent Innovative Solutions was the energy performance contractor for the improvements.
The cost of the Glascock HVAC project was $206,000. Revere Bank provided the loan, backed by the Green Bank.
“Revere Bank is pleased to have been able to make this investment in conjunction with our partnership with the Green Bank, and we are proud to further express our commitment to clean energy investment in the county,” said Revere Bank Co-President and CEO Ken Cook.
With four conservation organizations — the Nature Conservancy, the Wildlife Society, the American Fisheries Society, and the American Society of Photogrammetry — occupying the Glascock building, the Green Bank is set to lower greenhouse emissions for years to come.
“I hope this becomes normal, so normal that we don’t need to do ribbon cutting,” said Elrich.
“If we are going to meet these environmental goals, we can’t do it in the private or public sector alone, we have to do it in collaboration, and that’s what this project is all about,” said County Councilmember Andrew Friedson.