The Low-Down on Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Financing in Virginia

Property Assessed Clean Energy financing, or PACE, is starting to get more and more attention around the Commonwealth and the nation. In fact, Governor McAuliffe and his administration recognized PACE as a viable means to create more jobs, save energy, and lower electricity bills in a recent press release. As it’s popularity increases, many are still unaware of just exactly what PACE is and who it can benefit.

PACE financing is a loan program to help bring low-cost, long-term capital to fund the rehabilitation of existing and new privately owned commercial buildings through energy efficiency, renewable energy, and water conservation projects. The loan is repaid annually through the property’s real estate tax bill.

Thirty-three states and Washington, D.C. have passed legislation at the state level to enable PACE financing; nineteen of those states have already started a PACE program. In Virginia, a commercial PACE, or C-PACE, enabling law was originally enacted in 2009 and amended in 2015. Virginia’s PACE law requires a locality to develop a PACE program, and private lenders make the loan and negotiate directly with the property owner on rates and terms. Currently, Arlington County is the only Virginia jurisdiction actively developing a PACE program; however, several over localities are exploring the development of their own programs.

Practically all privately-owned commercial buildings, regardless of size, are eligible for PACE financing, including office, retail, hotel, and industrial space. Eligible PACE projects must either reduce energy consumption or generate energy, and they must be permanently affixed to the property. Eligible improvements include: insulation, solar panels, lighting, roofing, and HVAC systems. In Virginia, commercial, nonprofit, and multifamily buildings (except condos and dwellings with less than five units) are eligible regardless of their age.

PACE offers an array of benefits for each key stakeholder: property owner, contractor, lender, locality.

Property owners:

100% financing: PACE covers 100% of all hard and soft project costs, eliminating the need for upfront cash investment.

Long-term loan: With terms up to 20+ years, PACE loans result in lower annual payments and immediate positive cash flow.

Transferable: PACE loans do not have to be paid off at the time of sale; they transfer to the new owner.

Non-accelerating loan



Increase sales volume and improve profit margin: By covering 100% of project costs and eliminating the requirement for out-of-pocket expense, PACE brings financing to more customers. Since PACE is based on equity in the property and not personal credit, it is easier for more customers to obtain financing.

Fund deeper energy retrofits: Long-term financing enables customers to take advantage of projects with longer paybacks, which leads to more comprehensive projects with greater effect on energy usage. PACE can also fund efficiency improvements that are not allowable uses of Weatherization Assistance Program funds (i.e. replacement windows).

Gain support and resources: PACE programs can be developed to offer an array of contractor services to help grow business and streamline financing. Services include training, call center support, customizable marketing materials, tools to pre-qualify customers, project estimation calculators, and web portals for financial analysis and deal-tracking.

Spur demand for retrofits and energy auditors: As the number of people taking advantage of PACE increases, PACE could spur a surge of private demand for well-trained retrofitters. Additionally, as the program grows, so will the demand for energy audits. Energy audits are used to track a building’s energy usage before and after PACE improvements are installed.



Meet client’s needs of implementing upgrades

Increase value of collateral: upgrades and improvements increases the value of the property

– Enhances property owner’s ability to pay their debt: raises net operating income (NOI) through low annual payments and decreased operating costs



– Creates employment opportunities for contractors, trades, engineers, vendors, etc.

– Serves as a redevelopment tool for “tired” buildings with obsolescent and inefficient systems

– Improvements make buildings more marketable, leading to better tenant retention and increases property values

Increased property taxes  and construction fees yields more revenues for jurisdictions

Reduces locality’s carbon footprint, enabling it to become a green leader

Minimal municipal burden: a third party administrator carries the cost of starting and running the program


The difference between traditional bank financing and PACE financing:

Traditional Bank Financing PACE Financing
Purpose: HVAC and Lighting Purpose: HVAC and Lighting
Project Cost: $100,000 Project Cost: $100,000
Loan: $75,000

25% upfront cash investment required

Loan: $100,000

$0 upfront cash investment required

Interest Rate: 5% Interest Rate: 6.25%
Term: 5 years, fully amortizing Term: 15 years, fully amortizing
Monthly Payment: $1,415 Monthly Payment: $857
Annual Payment: $16,984 Annual Payment: $10,290


PACE financing is a lucrative tool that can benefit all parties involved. We look forward to seeing Arlington get their program up and running later this year and are excited to continue working with other localities as they explore the feasibility of developing their own PACE programs.

If you would like additional information about PACE, please contact VAEEC Program Coordinator Jessica Greene.