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See how the HERO Program from Renovate America is saving energy in tens of thousands of homes.
Anyone who has grand ideas of renovating their home knows that finding a quality contractor you can trust is an industry-wide challenge. People who have failing products they need to get replaced quickly know this too. Finding someone you can trust with your biggest investment can be incredibly challenging, and industry standards don’t always favor the consumer.
Until now. Renovate America, the company behind the industry-first HERO Program is filling the gap in the home and energy-efficient improvement market throughout California. The company has created a comprehensive solution to finding the right contractor for each project, and financing it in such a way that millions of people can afford to make their homes more energy efficient.
“You can count on the HERO Program to help you choose the right contractor and product, and get it for a good price,” Nick Fergis, Co-founder and COO of Renovate America said.
“We provide financing that makes it happen, and the consumer can pay it back over a longer period of time so it’s not an out-of-pocket cost. It’s changed the way products are selected, and we’ve made sustainable, energy-efficient products more accessible to a wider range of homeowners.”
For consumers, Renovate America’s financing model is one of the many ways the company has set itself apart from others in the industry.
Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) is a means of financing energy-efficiency upgrades or renewable energy installations for buildings. Local governments allow PACE financing to exist in their communities by an up or down vote, and the bond-issuing authority that represents them is involved in counter-signing every homeowner’s assessment and providing a forum for feedback on the program and setting consumer protection standards. The decision by the local government leads to job creation and local economic impact as well as cleaner air and reduced emissions—at no cost to taxpayers.
PACE draws in private investment in the bonds that back the assessments, and then homeowners pay back bondholders over time through their property taxes. Renovate America has worked to create HERO Bonds as an entirely new asset class, and has done six widely-marketed securitizations, including two independently validated Green Bonds, bringing more than a $1 billion in private capital to enable homeowners to afford energy-efficient and renewable energy home improvements.
With so many stakeholders in the industry—stretching from property owners and real estate professionals to independent contractors—and high stakes to begin with, the special solution HERO Program creates a shared value for each and every person involved.
“No other financing company operates like this,” said Fergis. “It gives government the ability to promote massive adoption of energy and water efficient products and create a significant environmental impact at no cost to taxpayers. Government partners have a mechanism to enact policy change—this is the only platform out there like that for the government. That’s what makes HERO Program successful and why it’s a great option.”
The company is changing the paradigm in the home contracting industry, and is working with other PACE providers to establish strong consumer protection standards.
With strict contractor requirements, fair pricing standards, and services to help investigate and resolve disputes through their HERO Protect program, Renovate America is helping to raise the bar for the home improvement industry.
Contractors wishing to get certified by the program are given a comprehensive training program--including a 22-module multimedia course complete with a 120-question final exam. Contractors are given opportunities for in-person training, in-the-field training, ride alongs, and team training, including training in preventing elder abuse. Once the contractors become official partners with HERO Program, there’s performance monitoring, and consumer complaints are investigated thoroughly. If you think these standards are tough, Renovate America would agree.
“We ask for much more than the industry standard. It’s rigorous, but there’s huge value and great business opportunities for the contractors who participate,” shared Fergis.
Renovate America is also setting the precedent in the industry with its technology developments. The company is one of the earliest adopters of residential of PACE—where financing options are very different from mortgage or auto lending—and so they couldn’t use technological platforms that were already on the market for financing companies.
So the company developed its own technology from the ground up. With 23 custom-developed modules in one fully integrated system, Renovate America has considered all of its stakeholders with this front-end platform.
Over several versions and six years, Renovate America has created a highly secure environment for government, real estate professionals, property holders, contractors, and many others to ensure they have full access to what they need at the front end of the business.
This includes a government app that maps out the real-time environmental and economic impact the HERO Program has had in your region, and a tech platform for contractors to manage projects from lead through completion to project funding, and to explain the program to customers and allow them to sign documents digitally and complete the financing process seamlessly.
The work Renovate America is doing in this industry is groundbreaking and innovative. Fergis shared with BOSS Magazine that the main reason the company has been so successful to date is because of the culture that has been in place since day one.
“There’s a deep respect between me and my co-founder, and for our complementary skills. As the company has grown, respect has become a genuine, core value. We hire people that are excited to be part of creating shared value in the community, as a partner with local governments, small businesses, and families.”
While many leaders like to think this about their company, Fergis knows that his employees enjoy their job: Renovate America’s employees voted the company the Best Place to Work in San Diego through the San Diego Business Journal.
Other accolades, like being named by the San Diego Union-Tribune as one of the Best Mid-Sized Companies in San Diego, prove that this young company is scaling successfully and in such a way that its original core values haven’t been neglected for greater success.
“We’ve grown so quickly--from 29 in 2012 to almost 700 now. The scalability of our operation has run like clockwork. Everything is automated, trackable, and paperless. Continuous improvement, and transparency for every stakeholder, has also helped our growth efforts.”
The HERO Program is in 85 percent of communities in California, and Fergis was optimistic that the company would be available throughout 100 percent of the state by the end of the year. With so much success in California, the plan then will be to see if the model will work throughout the rest of the U.S.
“We want to take our platform to scale to offer a new tool to modernize all of America’s housing stock and make this available state by state. We’re launching in a few other states this year, and over the next several years, we will be expanding across the country. There are over 100 million households that we believe could qualify for HERO, and we’re aiming to bring the program to every one of them.
“Everyone at Renovate America understands their contribution to the outcome, and they own it. We are enjoying the journey, and know that we are going to make history together.”
Renovate America’s mission is to help people invest in their properties and save energy and water. Our HERO Program has quickly become the fastest growing residential energy-efficiency financing solution in the nation and accounts for most of the Residential Property Assessed Clean Energy market.
We provide homeowners with affordable financing and back every project with consumer protections to ensure they’re installing approved energy-efficient products that meet state and federal efficiency standards by licensed and trained contractors.
We work in partnership with local governments to help them quantify results with real-time access to data that tracks the economic and environmental impact for their communities.
We train contractors on a suite of proprietary software and project management tools and provide live customer support to help contractors and homeowners alike to move energy-efficiency, renewable energy, and water-saving projects seamlessly and securely from concept to completion.
Renovate America Headquarters
16620 West Bernardo Dr.
San Diego, CA 92127