- Some interesting points regarding this article before
you read the aritcle...
- 1. The article begins by telling the reader that British
billionaire, Richard Branson is offering Sacramento a privately financed
effort to improve the city's energy-efficiency. Leading the reader to
believe that it was Branson's nonprofit (Carbon War Room) that approached
the city. HOWEVER, later in the piece the write explains that the project
was a bid-for-work city project. Which means someone in city government,
with foreknowledge of the program, brought this proposal forward,
not the other way around.
- 2. A senior adviser to the Carbon War Room (the nonprofit
behind the project), Murat Armbruster, is a hedge-fund manager.
- 3. The bank financing the project is Barclays Bank.
Barclays, a foreign owned bank, is currently receiving US taxpayer (bailout)
dollars due to derivatives exposure.
- 4. The state of California apparently has a "special
tax assessment program" (PACE, OR Property Assessed Clean Energy) already
on the books in anticipation of projects such as this.
- 5. Quoting from the article, '" Every project has
to save more than it costs," said Yvette Rincon, the city of Sacramento's
sustainability program manger.'
- In order for that statement to hold true, over the
long term, doesn't that mean that energy costs will have to be guaranteed
to rise. If so, has a plan to raise energy costs also been implemented
by the state in order to assure the program's success?
- 6. Although "many" of the jobs retrofitting
the buildings with the needed green gadgetry would be done by local contractors,
"aerospace contractor Lockheed Martin would be involved on the bigger
jobs." SURPRISE, SURPRISE.
- 7. Last, but certainly not least, the plan to retrofit
the office building has a built in customer base as well, the State of
California! Again, quoting from the article: "It would be particularly
helpful to the building owners trying to rent space to the area's biggest
office tenant, the state, said Rick Cull of RetroCom Energy Strategies
in Elke Grove."
- And just who will be paying the rent increases charged
for the new "green" office spaces? The taxpayers of California,
that's who. WILL WONDERS NEVER CEASE?
- Now, here is the article...
- Richard Branson's Carbon War Room picks Sacramento, Miami
- By Dale Kasler and Rick Daysog | The Sacramento Bee
- A high-powered investment coalition assembled by
Richard Branson, the eccentric British billionaire, is offering Sacramento
a shot at hundreds of jobs through a $100 million energy-efficiency program.
- Sacramento is one of two cities chosen by Branson's
nonprofit Carbon War Room group for a privately financed effort to retrofit
office buildings and other commercial properties. The other city is Miami;
the program would total $650 million.
- Announced late Monday, the deal could mean jobs for hundreds
if not thousands of Sacramento construction workers. They would install
double-pane windows, solar panels and the like on buildings throughout
- "This has the potential to be a huge economic boost
for Sacramento," said Mayor Kevin Johnson in a prepared statement.
"It represents real jobs, right now, and a chance to be a showcase."
- If the deal is approved by the City Council next Tuesday,
a Santa Rosa company called Ygrene Energy Fund would oversee the program
and provide low-cost retrofitting loans to property owners. Ygrene is part
of Branson's consortium and was chosen by city officials over two other
- Consortium officials said they were impressed with Sacramento's
commitment to green buildings.
- "Sacramento seemed very receptive," said Murat
Armbruster, a Bay Area hedge-fund manager and Carbon War Room senior adviser.
"A lot of cities in California are going to watch what happens there."
- Ygrene arranged a line of credit from Barclays Capital,
the banking giant, to fund the loans. As buildings are approved for retrofits,
Barclays will bundle loans together from Sacramento, Miami and possibly
elsewhere, and sell them to investors as bonds, said Alan Strachan, government
liaison at Ygrene.
- Building owners would repay the loans through special
property-tax assessments, which participating governments would pass through
to investors. The idea is, their energy savings would more than pay for
the retrofits. A private insurer will guarantee the savings will materialize.
- "Every project has to save more than it costs,"
said Yvette Rincon, the city of Sacramento's sustainability program manager.
- Local contractors would be enlisted for many of the projects,
although aerospace contractor Lockheed Martin would be involved on the
bigger jobs, Strachan said.
- The Branson announcement was hailed by the area's hard-hit
construction unions. Bob Williams, assistant business manager at Local
340 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, said his local's
25 percent unemployment could be cut in half.
- The city believes the program could yield 230 jobs a
year, Rincon said. Ygrene is projecting 1,500 jobs, although that estimate
isn't pegged to a particular time frame.
- Either way, it could bridge a financing gap that has
hindered the growth of the green-building movement.
- California is one of 26 states that allow cities and
counties to loan money for retrofits through a system called PACE, or Property
Assessed Clean Energy. But most municipalities don't have the funds to
- The deal brokered by Carbon War Room would bring private
capital into the picture. "The municipality has zero risk, financial
or otherwise," Strachan said. A similar program in Sonoma County generated
$55 million in retrofits, he said, while the work in Sacramento could surpass
- Branson, 61, is a high school dropout who founded the
Virgin conglomerate, a global empire that includes an airline, record label,
cellphone business and more.
- Ever the showman, Branson led a London-style double-decker
bus tour through Sacramento to celebrate the opening of Virgin music's
store on Arden Way in 1994. "I love new challenges," he said
during his visit. "I'm scribbling notes all the time with ideas."
- The store closed in 2005, a rare failure for Branson.
Forbes says he's the world's 254th wealthiest man, with a net worth of
- Knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1999, Branson is known
for his transoceanic hot-air balloon trips and speed boat crossings. One
of his newest ventures, Virgin Galactic, would charge passengers $200,000
a pop for a trip to outer space. Virgin is building a spaceship factory
in the Mojave Desert.
- He also has had an interest in global warming. His goal
in the Carbon War Room is to bring market forces to bear on climate change.
Announcing the Sacramento and Miami efforts, he called the deal "the
missing piece in the jigsaw puzzle for cities looking to implement green
- Sacramento's green-building industry welcomed it. "There
will be all kinds of companies lining up to be retrofitted," said
Ray Kapahi of GHG Climate Team consulting in Sacramento.
- It would be particularly helpful to building owners trying
to rent space to the area's biggest office tenant, the state, said Rick
Cull of RetroCom Energy Strategies in Elk Grove. The state has special
green standards for its buildings.
- Craig Sheehy of Envision Realty Services consulting said
a client of his is struggling to find $200,000 to bring his building up
to the state's standard.
- "This is where it's really going to help,"
he said. "It's a huge shot in the arm."
- Read more: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2011/09/21/124750/richard-