Commercial property owners, contractors, and local governments have a new financing tool called Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy, or C-PACE, available for implementation. Already available in 33 states and the District of Columbia, C-PACE enables property owners and developers to install high performance equipment that lowers costs, reduces out of pocket construction costs, and brings needed construction related jobs to our area. Since 2009, C-PACE financing has been used to fund over $280 million commercial clean energy projects across the country, and that figure continues to grow exponentially.
C-PACE finances energy efficiency, renewable energy, and water conservation improvements on the renovation or new construction of commercial and multifamily buildings. With C-PACE financing, there is no upfront cash investment, with 100% of all hard and soft projects costs financed upfront and repaid over terms of upwards of 20-25 years. The repayment of the loan is via a voluntary special assessment placed on the building’s property tax or utility bill and collected annually or semi-annually by the local government where the building is situated. Private lenders, ranging from local banks to national investors, provide the capital for the transaction. C-PACE in Virginia can be used for all types of commercial buildings as well as multifamily properties with five or more units. In addition, nonprofit property owners can typically take advantage of this financing by requesting that a PACE assessment be levied on their property.
C-PACE loans or assessments have several advantages over traditional loans. Unlike traditional loans, a C-PACE transaction does not require upfront cash and has a fixed payment structure throughout the term of the “loan”. Because the PACE assessment is legally tied to the property, not the borrower, the PACE assessment is considered a “non-recourse” transaction. Therefore, the project is approved based on the value and cash flow of the building, not the borrower’s financial wherewithal. Further, upon sale, the PACE assessment automatically transfers to the new owner. For example, a $500,000, 20-year C-PACE assessment would result in an annual payment of $44,000. If the owner sells the building, the new owner would continue to pay the assessment. Additionally, PACE assessments are underwritten so that the utility and maintenance cost savings would be more than $44,000 per year, thus making the transaction a win-win for all parties involved.
The Virginia Energy Efficiency Council, or VAEEC, is a strong supporter of PACE and is actively promoting this financial tool through participation in the Mid-Atlantic PACE Alliance (www.pacealliance.org). In their latest report “Why Energy Efficiency is a Smart Investment for Virginia”, VAEEC calculated that energy efficiency is a $1.5B industry in Virginia that supports 75,000 jobs. The adoption of PACE is identified as one of VAEEC’s top five priorities for the Commonwealth to support and increase these figures.
C-PACE success stories are prevalent throughout the country. In St. Louis, for example, it was used for the redevelopment of a historic multi-use building in St. Louis. The $8.5M in C-PACE loans were not only used to implement energy-efficient building upgrades; C-PACE also closed the project’s financing gap of $8M, reducing the owner’s equity requirements by $500,000. Just last month, DC United, the District’s soccer team, announced the use of PACE to fund $25 million for their new stadium opening in 2018. The project includes solar, LED lighting, HVAC systems, storm water retention systems and a green roof and will result in approximately $125,000 in annual utility cost savings. Emissions will be reduced by 820 metric tons of CO2 annually or roughly the equivalent to taking 173 cars off the road.
PACE will go hand in hand with Virginia’s economic development plans, helping to revitalize commercial areas. As seen in the examples above, PACE can provide the incentive to get projects off the ground and make them financially viable. Localities throughout the Commonwealth have the building stock to support C-PACE programs, thus giving Virginia the opportunity to be a leader in energy efficiency and to make positive environmental and financial changes, all while creating jobs and spurring economic growth. The VAEEC strongly encourages all Virginia localities to develop and implement C-PACE programs in their jurisdiction. It’s an investment that will pay dividends for businesses, the economy, the environment, and our communities. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.