How to Fund Building Improvements with “Other Peoples’ Money”

  • Expert Tips

Every owner of a commercial, industrial, or educational facility knows ongoing improvement to facilities is essential in order to achieve the best results. Figuring out how to pay for those improvements often turns out to be the fly in the ointment. Money for capital improvements always seems to be in short supply. Frankly, most building owners would rather put money into the core business rather than into a building.

Not making improvements, however, is a bad strategy. Not only does that approach make you less competitive in the short run, it can also really hurt you down the road if you’re suddenly forced to take emergency measures to replace equipment or infrastructure. And the fact of the matter is that 96% of commercial/educational buildings have performance issues that can be corrected with refurbishing or renovating obsolete systems—changes that can actually save you money on operating costs.

What if you could use other peoples’ money to make the kind of building improvements you need to keep an edge on your competitors? There are actually legitimate opportunities for you as a building owner to tap into other peoples’ money and make the improvements you want—without touching the capital you need to fund your core business.

So where can you find the kind of money that allows you make improvements without touching your own capital? One source is Property Accessed Clean Energy Financing (PACE).

Another way to generate the cash you need is by taking advantage of utility rebates, and government incentives that actually pay you to make the improvements (in order to improve energy-efficiency).

There are also no capital and low capital improvements you can make to reduce utilities by as much as 22 percent.

Of course, it doesn’t make sense to simply replace or even refurbish equipment and systems that don’t need it. To be smart about how you spend money on improvements (even if it’s other peoples’ money) you need to have a clear idea of

  • what really needs to be improved;
  • how much it will cost;
  • and how much it can save you (or increase performance).

That’s where a thorough assessment of your systems is invaluable. You can use our complementary Building Assessment Checklists to get a clear picture of what really needs to be done. Part of the Building assessment process allows you to compare your building’s energy use with similar buildings (using the DOE database), and to quantify the dollar value of savings you can achieve by optimizing building performance.

Making necessary improvements to your building can save you money and improve productivity—making you more money. But first you have to assess what needs to be improved. Then, if you’re able to use someone else’s money to make the improvements, you’re way ahead of the game!