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Rutland affordable housing project gets $175,000 for energy efficiency

Rutland affordable housing project gets $175,000 for energy efficiency

first_imgUS Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) today announced a $175,000 federal energy efficiency grant for a 17-unit affordable housing project in the historic St. Stanislaus School and Convent buildings. The project’s extraordinary energy-saving improvements could make it a national model.  While a typical weatherization project in Vermont can save 20 to 30 percent on energy consumption, the St. Stanislaus project will aim to reduce energy use for heating by 60 percent, and reduce carbon emissions by 80 percent or more. One result will be that energy costs at the St. Stanislaus project will be slashed by thousands of dollars every year.“I am very pleased that this grant will help the St. Stanislaus project set a new standard for energy efficient affordable housing,” Sanders said. There is little doubt in my mind that in the years to come the energy mix in this state will be very different than it is today.  This federal support will help move our state toward a greener economy.“At a time when many Vermonters are struggling economically, when affordable housing can be very hard to come by and when many low- and moderate-income people are spending 50 percent of more of their limited income on housing, this affordable housing project is sorely needed and I’m very excited to see it built in Rutland.” “Sen. Sanders is giving us an exciting challenge and a tremendous opportunity,” said Elisabeth Kulas, executive director of the Housing Trust of Rutland County. “We’ve been sensitive to energy improvements and the concept of renewal energy in our affordable housing development, having dabbled with solar hot water and spray foam insulation in the recent past. This grant is creating a pathway to implement the most advanced, yet proven, energy technologies. “Furthermore, and equally notable, pursuing this initiative in a project that is also meeting the National Park Services’ highest historic preservation standards  adds one more critical dimension and means this will serve as a poster child for historic preservation with energy efficiency and renewals technology for the rest of the country,” Kulas added.In order to achieve the energy efficiency goals, the project will increase roof and wall insulation and install high-efficiency lighting and appliances. It also will feature a wood pellet boiler, a solar hot water heater, triple-glazed windows, and an energy-saving ventilation system.In addition to the $175,000 grant that Sanders secured from the U.S. Department of Energy, the $4.6 million project also received $1.25 million from the federal stimulus package and significant funding from the Vermont Housing Conservation Board and other investors.The project will revitalize two long-abandoned historic buildings in West Rutland.  Both the school building and the convent which housed nuns who taught there are included on the state’s historic register and the National Register of Historic Places.Source: WEST RUTLAND, Vt. Oct. 27 – US Senator Bernie Sanderslast_img read more

Ex-PPF chief Rubenstein to lead DB consolidator ‘superfund’

Ex-PPF chief Rubenstein to lead DB consolidator ‘superfund’

first_imgIn a statement, The Pension SuperFund said it expected to grow to £20bn “and beyond” over time.Alan Rubenstein, who left PPF at the start of this year after early nine years in charge, is to lead the consolidator fund as CEO. He told IPE there was an estimated £250bn market for the fund’s services today, and that this would probably double over the next five years as schemes continued to close to future accrual.“In that context £20bn seems well achievable,” he said.Rubenstein is joined at the superfund by Marc Hommel, the former global head of pensions advisory at PwC, and Luke Webster, chief investment officer at the Greater London Authority and former chief financial risk officer at the London Pension Fund Authority. Webster is also partner and chief financial officer at Disruptive Capital.Rubenstein said The Pension SuperFund was already in discussions with several pension funds, sponsors and advisers. As to when it would absorb a first scheme, he told IPE that time would tell.”These things clearly do take time,” he said. “We’ll have to wait and see, but we have been really cheered by the reception that we’ve received so it does look like we have good wind behind us.” Alan RubensteinBlazing a trailThe launch of the consolidating fund is a direct response to challenges from both the UK government and the pensions industry to find ways to ensure the sustainability of DB schemes and many of their sponsors by improving governance and efficiency.Last year, a taskforce set up by the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA) advocated “superfunds” as an alternative funding option for DB schemes with weak sponsors.In a wide-ranging white paper published on Monday, the UK government supported the PLSA’s work and promised to consult on changes to legislation to allow commercial consolidators to operate.“Some employers find that they are constrained from focusing effectively on their core business because of the need to support a closed legacy pension scheme, the liabilities of which may be volatile and unpredictable,” the government said. The first commercial consolidator of UK defined benefit (DB) occupational pension schemes has launched, with the former chief executive of the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) at its helm. The Pension SuperFund has been set up to absorb bulk transfers of UK DB pension assets and liabilities and consolidate them into one occupational pension scheme.It has lined up £500m (€571m) of capital to underpin these commitments and establish the vehicle, largely coming from private equity firms Warburg Pincus and Disruptive Capital as initial investors. Investors will share in any surplus achieved by the superfund after benefits are paid.The latter is the family office of Edi Truell, a long-term supporter of scheme consolidation through previous roles as co-founder of Pension Insurance Corporation and chair of the London Pension Fund Authority.   What the government says on consolidationcenter_img “If an employer can afford entry they could exchange their covenant support through transfer to a consolidator and know exactly how much they had to pay, making planning for their future business easier. If at the same time members’ benefits were likely to be more secure, then this would create a more beneficial situation for all parties.”The white paper indicated the consultation on a legislative framework and authorisation regime was likely to take place towards the end of this year.However, Rubenstein said the superfund saw no reason to wait until the consultation took place and legislation was passed. ”We want to make a start now because we think there is a real demand for it and a real need,” he said.He said The Pension SuperFund welcomed the encouragement given to consolidation in the government’s white paper and that it was right that The Pensions Regulator (TPR) made sure there was sufficient protection for members. Rubenstein has a long history of working closely with the regulator during his tenure at the PPF.“We would hope to work with them and help in defining those rules, but we believe that fundamentally it is possible to do consolidation under the existing framework,” he said.The superfund would seek approval – known as “voluntary clearance” – from TPR every time it absorbed a scheme, according to Rubenstein. No benefit changes A scheme’s transfer to the superfund would not trigger changes to benefits, according to Rubenstein. He said that The Pensions SuperFund did not think it necessary to have legislation to simplify or standardise benefits. This was in contrast to the PLSA’s findings.“We think it is possible to offer all existing scheme members the same benefits as they’re currently getting but to deliver those with greater certainty,” he said. “We don’t need to do actuarial equivalence, we don’t need to do bulk reductions.”In the statement announcing its launch, The Pension SuperFund said the scale provided by consolidation would enable it to achieve higher investment returns, stronger risk management and lower costs.“This, underpinned by the capital provided by its investors, will enable The Pension SuperFund to offer higher levels of security for meeting future pension promises and better outcomes for pension scheme members, trustees and sponsoring employers,” it said.Rubenstein declined to comment further on the criteria the consolidator fund would use when assessing schemes for transferral, beyond that they had been decided and would relate to size, covenant “before and after”, and funding levels. The keenly anticipated government report was published on MondayOffering industry the opportunity to innovate and create a number of different models with a variety of target markets could, in future, offer a more affordable way of risk transfer. However, it is important that this is done in a safe way, with clear parameters for vehicles to operate within and to provide members with reassurance that funds are meeting a set of clearly defined standards.Despite the work already done within the industry on commercial consolidation vehicles, there is much more to do to develop this policy to a point where it could be successfully delivered. When the current DB legislative framework was designed, it was always intended that an employer would stand behind the scheme, or that the scheme would buy out with an insurance company subject to strict funding and capital requirements.We therefore need to ensure that exchanging sponsor covenant and moving into a commercial consolidator improves the expected outcomes for members in order to realise the benefits that consolidation could bring.We are therefore developing proposals for a legislative framework and authorisation regime to enable consolidation in which an employer no longer sponsors their DB pension scheme.There is a delicate balance to be struck. If the legislative framework is too restrictive, then the consolidator vehicles may not be commercially viable but if the vehicle is under-protective of members, then the risks to members’ benefits will be unacceptable. We have therefore identified a number of areas that will need to be considered, which will be subject to further consultation this year.last_img read more