C-PACE. An acronym that has brought much relief for property owners, hope for environmentalists, and plenty of “PACE-puns” for those in the industry. C-PACE, or Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy, has grown its reputation as a solution towards mitigating climate change, but also as being a steadfast financing option through any economic climate, even global pandemics. With the rise of COVID-19, C-PACE now plays a key role in ensuring the heath of employees as they return to the workplace, by financing monitoring technology, air quality and purification, and lighting quality that all impact the health and efficiency of indoor spaces. By combating not one, but two global issues, C-PACE is further cementing itself as an undeniable package for property owners. However, as of August 2020, C-PACE financing has only launched in 23 states plus D.C., as well as Berwick Canada having their first C-PACE project this past March. With this Berwick expansion in mind, if we are able to take the success that’s been concentrated in the United States and bring it to a global scale, one can only imagine the progress our world could make towards sustainability. As we continue to emit dangerous levels of greenhouse gasses and grapple with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, we see a rising need for environmental action during a time of extreme economic volatility. Now, I know I’m just an intern that’s been around a shorter time than it takes to receive a signed term sheet, but it seems there is no better a time than right now to initiate a push for international C-PACE.
According to PACE Nation, C-PACE alone has reduced an estimated 2,850,000 metric tons of Carbon. Additionally, C-PACE is estimated to have saved 7,929,319,000 kWh (kilowatt hours) of energy. These proven environmental benefits, as well as an economic impact of adding 18,000 “job-years,” demonstrate the success of C-PACE in the United States. However, these goals of reducing our carbon footprint while upholding a strong economy are not limited to just the United States.
PACE has spread internationally, primarily in the form of Residential PACE or R-PACE. Places like Canada and Europe have made progress toward cementing PACE’s role in real estate, yet, in my opinion there is still work to be done. If we can use the success of international R-PACE as a starting point for this goal, C-PACE can be implemented to further combat two global crises at once; climate change and the COVID-19 virus.
On December 12, 2015, countries throughout the world came together to adopt the Paris Agreement. They agreed upon the goal to limit the increase in average temperature for the century to below 2°C, and ideally limit it to 1.5°C. To fulfill this agreement, countries committed to accomplishing their own Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC), which are commitments to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions in their country throughout the near future, in order to hold off global warming. A country such as Brazil, for example, is committed to reducing emissions by 37% between levels seen in 2005 vs. 2025. As mentioned earlier, C-PACE has proven to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Brazil, as well as other countries have already taken tremendous strides towards incentivizing energy efficiency and renewable energy. The United States might even have a lot to learn from other countries, such as Brazil, in terms of how well they’ve implemented energy efficiency. However, their remaining efforts towards these INDC goals could greatly benefit from having a strong, clean-energy financing tool to advance their work even further, including Brazil’s subsequent indicative contribution goal of reducing emissions by 43% from 2005 to 2030. Brazil could use the C-PACE financing option to continue putting significant dents in their emissions reduction goal while reducing annual costs of properties. This cost savings approach utilizing both financing and technology already developed and perfected in the United States, may be the perfect uplifting example of what can happen if we work together for the good of the planet.
Many countries outside of the United States already have remarkable measures in place for the mitigation of climate change. Therefore, the second biggest factor that could push international C-PACE over the edge is the need to create healthy work environments, and indoor spaces in general. C-PACE is able to assist in providing financing for monitoring technology, lighting quality, as well as air quality and purification to ease the current health crisis. This necessary move towards a new normal of indoor environments will allow properties to remain competitive alongside higher expectations of healthy indoor environments. According to Harvard Business School, “building owners should be worried if they do not have the healthiest buildings, as this will deter employees.” As these upgrades couple in benefiting health and efficiency, they can also lead a building to becoming Leader in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified, a plaque on the building which indicates less operating costs, energy efficiency, and therefore making the property more attractive to tenants and owners, as it benefits the “people, planet, and profit.”
There has never been a better time to push for international C-PACE. Due to its success in the United States, as well as active R-PACE in other countries, it is within our grasp to truly make a widespread impact while sustainable and healthy buildings cement themselves as the new standard. With all this in mind, people may ask, “who will go do the dirty work to turn international C-PACE into a reality?” A tough question for sure. To lessen this burden, as an intern in the C-PACE industry, I humbly offer my services to go prospect this idea. I volunteer to carry the burden of traveling to Brazil, France, and other beautiful countries to evaluate the potential of International C-PACE, so no need to worry.
Griffin Love is Greenworks Lending’s Marketing & Communications Intern and a senior at the University of Connecticut.
 Mike Doty, “C-PACE For Healthy, Safe, Resilient Buildings” Greenworks Lending, June 15, 2020, accessed July 24, 2020, https://greencapital.nuveen.com/c-pace-for-healthy-safe-resilient-buildings/
 Kirk Starratt, “Berwick commercial first in Canada for PACE funded energy upgrades” Saltwire Network, March 17, 2020, accessed August 3, 2020, https://www.saltwire.com/news/local/berwick-commercial-building-first-in-canada-for-pace-funded-energy-upgrades-425482/
 Kristen Senz, “Why COVID-19 Raises the Stakes for Healthy Buildings” Harvard Business School, April 20, 2020, Accessed 6/10/2020
 LEED, “THIS is LEED” LEED, accessed 8/3/2020 http://leed.usgbc.org/leed.html