It isn’t cheap to make a large commercial building more energy efficient. Even when improvements will eventually pay for themselves, that timeframe can be longer than owners plan to hold onto the building, according to Philadelphia City Councilmember Derek Green. With no prospect to recoup the upfront expenses, building owners often decide not to invest in energy efficiency.
On June 23, 2022, Philadelphia City Council passed a bill, introduced by Green and currently awaiting Mayor Jim Kenney’s signature, that would make it easier for apartment building owners to make energy efficiency improvements. The Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) model allows building owners to borrow money for energy efficiency programs and then repay the money through a tax assessment, which lets future payments follow the property once it is sold to future owners.
The Philadelphia Energy Authority already operates a C-PACE program for nonresidential commercial buildings. Projects have included a solar energy installation at the Olde City Day School and upgrades — installation of heat pumps, LED lighting, and energy efficient windows — at J-centrel, a mixed-use development in Kensington.
C-PACE requires legislation at the state level to allow local governments to take part, and a law newly signed in Harrisburg allowed Philadelphia to expand its program.