Advancing the Economic Benefits of Clean Energy

Growing up in the countryside of lower Pennsylvania, I was surrounded by nature and gained a deep respect for the outdoors, which culminated into declaring environmental studies as my major at Bucknell University. It’s become increasingly clear that while learning about climate change is extremely important, we all have a responsibility to go one step further and be a part of the solution.  Greenworks is taking this responsibility to heart, as they are leading the charge in the way we think about sustainability in the built environment.

Greenworks was established in 2015 in Darien, Connecticut, and has grown swiftly, boasting over 250 projects over 13 different states and is continuing to grow every day.  The exponential growth of Greenworks over the past four years can be attributed to the C-PACE program, as it has allowed property owners to recognize the great benefits of financing renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.  By using the Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) program, Greenworks can provide long-term, affordable capital to property owners who are seeking to make improvements to their buildings to reduce their energy costs.

From small towns to large cities, governments are grappling with how to ensure that the built environment mitigates its greenhouse gas emissions. This is especially difficult for private property owners who face economic challenges with making the transition to cleaner energy. In the past, many property owners would avoid making major improvements like energy efficiency retrofits or the installation of renewable energy, due to the steep upfront costs.

I have learned that through Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE), Greenworks has effectively provided an alternative solution for hundreds of property owners across the country, proving that clean energy improvements can be economically viable. Greenworks has the humble goal of changing the nation’s built environment, building by building, to help with an affordable transition towards a clean energy future.

As an intern for Greenworks, I have primarily focused on business development, concentrating on expanding our outreach across the country, and have quickly come to realize the potential for C-PACE as the industry continues its expansion. For example, numerous states around the country, including New York, California, and Pennsylvania have either passed legislation or are working through legislation requiring them to be carbon neutral and rely entirely on renewable energy by 2050 or earlier. In total, there are currently 13 states pledging the use of renewables in place of fossil fuels, suggesting that local and state legislatures are leading the charge in creating lasting change in the face of climate change. Even states such as Pennsylvania and Illinois, states known for their production of natural gas and oil, have embraced the positive outcomes that a clean energy economy provides, like new jobs, better technology, and educational opportunities.

Aggressive environmental strategies go hand-in-hand with the incentives of C-PACE financing. As more and more states begin to convert to renewable energy and carbon neutrality, it will be necessary for commercial buildings throughout the state to improve their overall efficiency. Therefore, C-PACE will provide an economical solution for property owners to fund improvements that meet these goals. The C-PACE program allows a property owner to access 100% financing, covering both hard and soft costs of a particular project and then pay the costs back over time through a special benefit assessment on their property tax bill. The repayment mechanism provides a credit enhancement that allows Greenworks to source affordable long-term, fixed-rate, non-recourse financing for property owners to fund energy efficiency improvements to their properties.

Therefore Greenworks, being the leading C-PACE provider in the nation, can provide a win-win scenario for property owners whom sustainability often takes a lower priority than other various factors that affect their business. For the owner, because the payback period is over such an extended length, they are often able to offset the PACE assessment with the energy savings they will yield over time.

The Greenworks Lending team recognizes the necessity of making renewable energy economically feasible for all types of commercial properties and works hard to deliver the benefits of C-PACE as efficiently and effectively as possible.  As an environmental studies major, it is not the idea that Greenworks has an uncanny opportunity for growth and expansion that excites me, but instead that while Greenworks expands, it is spreading the notion that clean energy can be economically viable.