C-PACE (Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy) financing – now available in Maine
Efficient financing mechanism will enable property owners and developers to fund sustainability measures in commercial real estate projects
Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE), a financing mechanism for property owners and developers to access capital for new construction developments and substantial rehabilitation projects, C-PACE – a public-private financing program enabled by Maine state legislation – can help fund new construction and retrofit projects, as well as recapitalize ongoing or recently completed projects across the state and in metro areas, such as Portland, Biddeford, and Augusta for up to 12 months.
C-PACE works by providing commercial property owners and developers access to low-cost, long-term, fixed-rate financing for sustainability measures that impact the energy and water performance of a commercial property. The program is enabled by a state statute that classifies clean energy upgrades as a public benefit – the same way in which other public benefits like new roads, streetlights, and water mains are paid – allowing these measures to be financed with no money down and then repaid as a benefit assessment on the property tax bill.
The term and amortization of the financing match the expected useful life of the improvements or new construction infrastructure, which is typically around 20-30 years. The assessment transfers upon the sale of the property, and it can be passed through to tenants where appropriate.
While facilitating sustainability efforts, the program reduces property owners’ annual costs and provides significantly better financing terms than the available alternatives to fund construction projects. And during these volatile economic times, C-PACE provides reliable and flexible bridge financing options.
In Maine, C-PACE capital can be used for any non-residential property – this includes commercial office, industrial, retail, hotels, private schools, health care facilities, agriculture, nonprofits and multifamily properties that consist of five or more units.
Another benefit of C-PACE is that it can be layered in with other forms of economic development financing, like historic and new market tax credits. C-PACE financing is a very flexible financing tool and can be used toward almost any measure that impacts the energy or water performance of a property. This includes hard, soft, and any associated costs connected to mechanical, electrical, plumbing, building envelope improvements and renewable energy sources. Examples of C-PACE eligible measures include HVAC, LED lighting, facility controls, heat pumps, low flow water fixtures, insulation, roofing, windows, doors, solar and much more.
In the case of new development and gut rehab projects, C-PACE can improve developer internal rate of return by up to 50%. C-PACE is accretive to financial returns because it can provide developers with capital at rates that are less than half the cost of traditional mezzanine debt or equity. In addition, it provides fixed rate construction through term, is non-recourse, and the obligation transfers upon the sale of the property, or it can be prepaid at any time.
For retrofit projects, C-PACE financing can be used to fund capital expenditures by providing upfront capital to replace aging equipment. C-PACE can provide up to 35% of the as-stabilized or as-complete property value for retrofits. Replacing aging equipment saves energy and results in lower operating expenses, thereby increasing net operating income (NOI) and the value of the property. C-PACE financing can fund 100% of eligible expenses of these projects as long as the financial benefit of the project outweighs the cost over the entire useful life.
In Maine, C-PACE also allows property owners and developers to recapitalize ongoing, stalled, or recently completed construction projects. Through C-PACE recapitalization, property owners and developers can access low-cost, long-term, fixed-rate and non-recourse financing with no payment for 24 months to fund cost overruns, replenish operating reserves and pay down existing leverage.
New Construction Projects
New construction projects with primary heating systems designed to perform above state code requirements are eligible to receive 14% of all construction costs in C-PACE financing. Further funding is available for other energy related construction costs to the extent those improvements produce energy savings that exceed the incremental cost of the investment. The combination of HVAC, envelope, domestic hot water, and lighting measures will yield C-PACE funding for 15-25% of a new development capital stack.
Nuveen Green Capital is a national leader in sustainable CRE financing solutions and an affiliate of Nuveen, the $1 trillion+ asset manager1 and wholly owned subsidiary of TIAA. Nuveen Green Capital is a private capital provider dedicated to making sustainable commercial real estate a smart financial decision for commercial property owners.