Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich Recommends Expanding Finance Programs for Building Owners to Make Improvements Toward County’s Climate Goals

by Patrick Herron
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For Immediate Release: Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich has submitted legislation to the County Council that would expand financing opportunities for building owners to improve the energy performance and climate resilience of their buildings to help meet the County’s climate goals.

The Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) Financing Amendments bill would expand an existing tool in the market for building owners to comply with the proposed County Building Energy Performance Standards (BEPS) and meet the new green building code requirements under the 2018 International Green Construction Code (IgCC).

The bill proposes to amend C-PACE project eligibility to include climate resiliency, climate adaptation, water conservation, environmental health and safety upgrades. It also offers an extended pilot program for higher C-PACE loan amounts relative to the value of the building. The amendments allow eligible projects to be retroactively financed using C-PACE, which ensures that all building owners can access the County’s C-PACE program. This would ensure that even when faced with an emergency replacement, owners can make the more energy-efficient choice knowing this financing option is available to them.

“We know the risks associated with climate change are not only multiplying, but they are also disproportionately affecting more vulnerable populations,” said County Executive Elrich. “Aligning the County’s climate goals with flexible financing tools offered by the County’s Green Bank to meet the challenge of climate change has been a high priority for my administration. C-PACE offers an important opportunity for all building owners in the County to finance improvements to their buildings and make energy solutions more accessible.”

The County’s C-PACE financing program was established in March 2015 and officially began in April 2016. Since then, 13 projects totaling more than $10 million have been financed by private capital funding for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.

Eligible projects financed with C-PACE improve the energy performance of existing buildings, which help prepare building owners for proposed BEPS requirements. C-PACE also can be used to help newly constructed buildings meet or exceed building code requirements, such as the recently adopted 2018 IgCC.

In early 2021, the County selected the Montgomery County Green Bank as the new C-PACE program manager, where building owners can now go to one organization for comprehensive financing options for building improvements.

“These new C-PACE amendments are key to unlocking the scale of greenhouse gas reductions outlined in the County’s Climate Action Plan,” said County Green Bank Chief Investment Officer Stephen Morel. “Property owners and commercial businesses need access to innovative financing tools like C-PACE, and these amendments put Montgomery County at the forefront of aligning commercial investment with climate goals.”

The County’s 2018 greenhouse gas inventory shows that commercial building energy use accounts for 26 percent of community-wide emissions. As described in the County’s Climate Action Plan, the unprecedented challenge of climate change will require creative solutions, particularly in paying for climate action. Expansion of the C-PACE program leverages the existing tool for private property owners to make their buildings more climate resilient and energy efficient, thus improving operating costs and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

For more information about how to access C-PACE or other tools to finance building upgrades, visit https://mcgreenbank.org/mc-pace/

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