Columbia Issues First-Ever ‘Green Bonds’ to Fund Stormwater Improvements, Sustainability

Photo credit: Groovechapter, Flickr Creative Commons

The City of Columbia, South Carolina, is issuing its first-ever green bonds to improve its stormwater system; the $37.9 million in bonds – sold by Siebert Cisneros Shank & Co. (SCSCO) and certified by the Climate Bond Initiative – will be used to upgrade and improve the city’s stormwater system.

Upgrades will include major improvements to stormwater conveyance system (including storm sewer, channels and ditches), stormwater detention facilities, stream and culvert restoration, and green stormwater infrastructure such as bioretention facilities. These initiatives will reduce flooding, erosion, and sedimentation issues, among other benefits, the city says.

As climate change brings more severe weather, and as population increases, cities are under the gun to create more resilient infrastructure. Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin says that by investing in an environmentally responsible way, “we are helping to mitigate these problems and leave a safer, more sustainable world for the next generation.”

Increasingly, investors are enhancing their environmental, social and governance (ESG) investment criteria. Green bonds are a relatively new and fast-growing sector of the national municipal bond market, allowing public entities to finance imperative capital construction in a way that supports environmental responsibility. SCSCO chairwoman and CEO Suzanne Shank says she is continuing to see an increase in demand for green bonds.

The Columbia bond transaction received strong interest, including orders from 36 investors, with several stating that the green bond designation was a key factor in their investment decision, SCSCO says.

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