By Cherie Ching, Advocacy Fellow
Look around. With more and more buildings going up every year, we are becoming a world of concrete backyards and artificial trees. More buildings mean more energy, but what kind of energy do we choose to generate for these ubiquitous buildings? Electricity consumed by buildings in the United States will represent 75% of total electicity by 2025, therefore, our decisions do matter. Traditionally, buildings implied an increase in carbon dioxide emissions because more energy meant burning more fossil fuels. In 2008, buildings in the United States contributed 38.9% of the nation’s total carbon dioxide emissions. http://www.epa.gov/greenbuilding/pubs/gbstats.pdf. But we are changing the way buildings and energy affect our quality of environment and quality of life. With options such as Property Assessed Clean Energy and Resiliency (PACE-R) financing, property owners are incentivized to make the right decision when upgrading their buildings, the greener decision.
PACE-R is a term used to describe a novel approach for funding energy efficiency, renewable energy and resiliency projects. These projects are 100% financed by an outside entity; financing is treated similar to a tax assessment and have terms that are generally longer than the useful life of the improvement (up to 20yrs); and the assessment remains part of the property regardless of the changing of ownership. By expanding PACE-R financing from the current (exclusive) municipality authority regulations, and by including PACE-R service providers, the financing process is much more feasible for property owners to jump onboard. A new approach will also shift the burden of administration away from small town building inspectors or planning departments to a larger authority with state-wide experience in financing building projects, such as MassDevelopment.
BILL S 2255 (S177): “An Act fueling job creation through energy efficiency,” will enable private lenders to put money into a secure investment, which will result in improved energy performance, environmental responsibility and resilience for our building stock in Massachusetts. The PACE-R bill was recently reported to the Senate Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities & Energy, though no hearing has yet been scheduled.
When passed, the Massachusetts commercial and industrial PACE-R program will help:
- Create Jobs
- Increase Property Values
- Encourage Private Investment in Energy Efficiency, Renewables & Resiliency
- Reinforce the Role of Massachusetts as a Leader in Green Building
USGBC MA Chapter is advocating for improved PACE-R legislation in Massachusetts to kickstart the implementation of projects by giving the state-wide bonding authority to MassDevelopment, which already has capacity for these types of financial instruments. PACE-R programs process applications, qualify projects and provide or arrange financing. Through PACE-R programs, Massachusetts will be able to expedite green projects and bring the green back into our backyards!