The Race for PACE

The Race for PACE

Wednesday, February 17, 2021 Community Engagement Project Development Project Finance 0

A Race to Make a Difference

It’s important that key local partners—municipal and county economic development officers, business associations, local nonprofits, and community leaders—be aligned and coordinated in communicating the message.

One way to do this is the idea of a “Race for PACE.” This could be a virtual or physical event, as well as being a friendly competition among sectors or neighborhoods. One way of organizing it is to have individuals register in teams, whether based on interest, or geography, or business affiliation—and then competing to see how far each team can go in getting out the message and stimulating the projects that result in carbon reduction.

We’re All in a Race to Restore the Earth

The reality is that we are all in a race with time, to pull back from the brink, to swerve at the last minute, and decide to take a different path. The Climate Mobilization movement is right in seeking to declare a Climate Emergency and have every government take action to slow the rate of global warming, and ultimately to reverse course and act to restore the climate. The right policies and programs are crucial. The Biden Administration is “putting the climate crisis at the center of U.S. foreign policy and national security,” and planning to spend an estimated $5 trillion on measures to reduce emissions to zero by 2050.

As important as such policies in changing our collective outcomes are the millions of individual actions that we take at a local level—cutting waste, reducing emissions, and putting carbon back into the soil. Upgrading our building stock is an important part of that set of local actions.

Specifically, President Biden has pledged to reduce the carbon footprint of U.S. buildings by 50% by 2035. This will require an enormous amount of new investment, including as much as $130 billion in new PACE investment in the next four years. As noted by Samantha Duran and Joaquin Martinez of the Florida law firm Lowndes, property owners can be “expected to take advantage of programs such as the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) loans, renewable energy purchasing incentives, and other tax credits likely to be rolled out.” (“Looking Ahead to the Biden Administration – What the Commercial Real Estate Community Needs to Know,” January 21, 2021.)

Biden’s clean energy goals include a commitment to:

Upgrade 4 million buildings and weatherize 2 million homes over 4 years, creating at least 1 million good-paying jobs with a choice to join a union; and also spur the building retrofit and efficient-appliance manufacturing supply chain by funding direct cash rebates and low-cost financing to upgrade and electrify home appliances and install more efficient windows, which will cut residential energy bills. (The Biden Plan)

The Race for PACE, then, is a microcosm of this larger transformation.

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[1] In commenting on Biden’s view of the Opportunity Zone program, Duren and Martinez also note that “the Biden administration has stated that it will provide additional incentives for investors to work with non-profit or community-oriented organizations to produce a “community benefit plan” for each investment.”

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