Rebuild Nebraska Finding Fertile Soil in Beatrice and York

A year ago, not a single business or multiple family housing owner in the state had heard of something called Rebuild Nebraska. Today, it's a different story, especially in York and Beatrice where 22 Rebuild partners have been recruited.

Rebuild Nebraska partners are businesses and multi-family housing owners that voluntarily agree to improve the energy efficiency of their buildings and reduce waste. In exchange for that agreement, the partners gain access to services such as free energy audits and low-cost financing that is not available to some others in the state.

After just twelve months, the Energy Office delivered 20 percent more Rebuild partners than the agency had promised the federal government it would recruit. The U.S. Department of Energy is funding the multi-year effort in the state. By the first of October, the Energy Office had signed up ten marketing and 50 building partners across the state.

After just twelve months, the Energy Office delivered 20 percent more Rebuild partners than the agency had promised the federal government it would recruit. The U.S. Department of Energy is funding the multi-year effort in the state. By the first of October, the Energy Office had signed up ten marketing and 50 building partners across the state.

Double-Teaming

"In some areas, we've been able to combine our Rebuild effort with local and regional projects," Lynn Chamberlin, Rebuild manager said. Chamberlin pointed to Beatrice as an example of teaming with Nebraska Public Power District and Beatrice's electric supplier on a rehabilitation effort with local businesses. "The services offered by the Energy Office complemented what the utility was already doing," Chamberlin said.

The Energy Office has already performed Rebuild audits on 99 buildings and presented the energy audit findings to about three-quarters of the building owners. Each audit examines potential ways the building and systems within it could be improved and operating costs reduced. The 99 buildings totaled 1.137 million square feet.

"We see each of our partners as unique," Chamberlin said. "We combine the Energy Office's technical expertise with the partner's needs and provide the services that are most valuable." Chamberlin estimated the cost of an energy audit of a typical commercial business ranges from $1,000 to $1,500. "The Energy Office provides the energy audit free to all partners," Chamberlin said.

The other main service a partner can access is inexpensive local financing. Commercial Rebuild partners can borrow up to $100,000 at 6 percent interest, if financing is needed to make cost-saving building improvements. Multiple family housing owners can borrow up to $60,000 at the same low interest rate. Loans can be made for up to 15 years.

If an improvement needs to be financed," Chamberlin said, "most partners will be able to deal with a lender they already know since 70 percent of the financial institutions in the state offer these loans."

Nearing $10,000

Over the past seven years, the Energy Office has teamed with local lenders to finance $9.3 million worth of improvements in nearly 600 small businesses across the state. Improvements identified by a Rebuild assessment can also be financed through the Energy Office. According to Chamberlin nearly $500,000 in Rebuild recommendations will be financed with Energy Office loans.

"The two most common reasons for not making cost-effective energy improvements in buildings," Chamberlin said, "are 'I don't know what needs to be done' and 'I can't afford it.' With Rebuild, those barriers are gone."

To learn more about Rebuild Nebraska, contact Lynn Chamberlin in the Energy Office.


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