MISSION INVESTMENT FUND LOAN PROGRAMS
FOR ENERGY-SAVING PROJECTS IN ELCA ORGANIZATIONS
In accordance with the ELCA mandate for the denomination to lower our carbon footprint in response to the realities of global climate change, Energy Stewards Initiative is pleased to provide information and opportunities for loans for energy-reduction projects.
In May 2014, ESI representatives Warren Gaskill, Ken Westlake, and Dave Rhoads along with Keith Mundy and other leaders in the ELCA Office of Stewardship met with Amelia Dawkins, chief loan officer of the ELCA Mission Investment Fund (MIF). This informative and constructive conversation clarified the current MIF opportunities for loans that could be obtained for energy reduction and also included the initiation of a plan for a rotating loan fund based on grant and gift funds that would be interest free to congregations and camps.
The following represents loan options currently available (1. and 2.) and a new grant option under consideration (3.). In all options, MIF is committed to sustainability—“elements that are energy efficient and help to sustain our natural resources.”
1. Mission Investment Fund loans for construction projects over $20,000.00 for congregations and camps. These are standard loans with interest rates that are competitive with commercial loans, designed to offer better rates than can be obtained in the marketplace, with no points or origination fees. Currently available for new and established ELCA congregations, synods, seminaries, colleges and universities, schools, social ministry organizations, and outdoor ministries.
Organizations can obtain these loans from the ELCA Mission Investment Fund to include major “green” initiatives in the building programs, such as high efficiency heating and air conditioning system and renewable energy, among others. These larger loans for additions to current buildings can now also fold in and include smaller energy saving projects for the entire building complex, such as lighting retrofits, insulation, window replacement, and other weatherization measures.
2. Mission Investment Fund loans for large energy-saving projects for over $20,000.00. Again, these are standard loans with interest rates that are competitive with commercial loans, designed to offer better rates than can be obtained in the marketplace. Currently available for new and established ELCA congregations, synods, seminaries, colleges and universities, schools, social ministry organizations, and outdoor ministries.
MIF offer loans for major energy projects over $20,000.00 might be for HVAC systems for heating and/or air conditioning, boiler replacement, weatherization projects to tighten the building envelope(including window or door replacement), and renewable energy such as solar, photovoltaic, wind turbines, and geo-thermal. These larger loans can now also fold in and include smaller energy saving projects such as lighting retrofits, insulation, window replacement, and weatherization.
3. Under development: Small interest-free loans from a Rotating Loan Fund. Mission Investment Fund loans for energy projects from $3,000.00 to $20,000.00 for congregations and camps. These loans will be developed and promoted collaboratively between MIF, the ELCA Office of Stewardship, and Lutherans Restoring Creation/ Energy Stewards Initiative. These loans will be interest free with only an annual processing fee. The funds for these loans will come from funds to be raised through gifts and grants. These grants are especially designed for congregations that could not otherwise afford to do such projects.
The rotating loan fund will be based on a model currently used by the Metro-Chicago Synod designed for lighting projects. Congregations will apply to participate. They will get an energy audit (perhaps from their local energy company)with directions on the specific work to be done. They will then obtain competitive bids for products to be purchased and work to be done. The loan will include the cost of the initial audit along with the contract costs for materials and work. The cost of labor can be reduced when members of the congregation participate in the work to be done.
The loan will be repaid according to a formula based on the anticipated energy savings, as specified by the local energy company. As such, a congregation has no upfront costs, and monthly payments will not go beyond their current energy costs. When the loan is repaid, they will be free and clear to save money on their energy costs. Meanwhile, the repaid loan will be available for another congregation to obtain the funds as an interest free loan. Because lighting replacement and retrofitting provide the greatest opportunity for immediate and short-term payback, the rotating loan program will focus on grants for lighting (retrofitting of fluorescent lighting and LED replacement bulbs).
These loans are not currently available. Nevertheless, in order to raise funds to begin the program, it will help us in obtaining tax-free charitable gifts and loans if we can identify some congregations and camps that could benefit from such a loan. The loans will be available to all ELCA congregations and camps. At this stage, ESI participants will be given priority based on their overall commitment to energy efficiency and conservation. MIF building consultants and ESI leaders can consult with congregations and camps about the best projects to choose as a basis for requesting a loan.