King County Executive Dow Constantine announced a proposal that would make low-interest financing for energy and seismic upgrades available for more than 4,000 existing buildings and new construction, addressing one of the biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the region.
A new loan program proposed by King County Executive Dow Constantine would make commercial and multi-family buildings – which account for 22% of countywide greenhouse gas emissions – eligible for energy and seismic and other resiliency upgrades with low-interest financing from private lenders.
If approved by the King County Council, the program would ultimately result in more buildings that generate clean energy, require less energy to heat and cool, conserve water, and are more resilient to earthquakes and climate impacts. The upgrades would also increase the number of green construction jobs in King County at no additional costs to taxpayers.
Executive Constantine also announced a pilot program to switch out oil, gas, & old electric heating systems for energy efficient heat pumps in unincorporated King County to help get cool, healthy air in homes at low or no cost to low-and moderate-income households. This program will be included in the Executive's mid-biennial budget due in September.
“Economic recovery and job creation can go hand-in-hand with greater sustainability and lower climate impacts. King County will be one of the largest local governments in the nation to offer low-interest loans from private lenders for climate and seismic upgrades for commercial and multi-family buildings,” said Executive Constantine. “C-PACER will help us create the innovative solutions our region needs to re-engineer the built environment, making the places where we live, work, and gather more sustainable, more energy efficient and better prepared for climate impacts.”
The program, called C-PACER, or Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy + Resiliency, creates a mechanism for banks to offer low-interest financing for new construction and retrofits that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce water usage, or make a building more resilient to earthquakes and climate impacts.
More than 4,000 commercial, multi-family, industrial, and agricultural buildings will be eligible for the incentive program, which is expected to spark growth in green jobs.
Examples of projects that can be financed by C-PACER include:
- Energy and water efficiency
- Transition from fossil fuels to electricity
- Renewable energy
- Seismic hardening
- Fire protection
- Flood readiness
- Energy storage
King County is among the first local governments in the state – and one of the largest in the United States – to capitalize on the opportunity that the Legislature created this past session when it authorized counties to offer C-PACER.
Like a traditional loan, the borrower and C-PACER lender negotiate the financing, with the borrower repaying the lender over time. By having King County record the loan as a lien against the building, the lender can typically offer the borrower more time to repay the loan and at a lower interest rate, saving the borrower money. The county charges a small fee at closing, which will cover any staff costs.
Executive Constantine will announce additional climate actions over the next several months that will help King County achieve the goal he set in the 2020 Strategic Climate Action Plan to cut countywide greenhouse gas emissions in half by the end of the decade. Upcoming actions will include:
- Modernizing county building codes to promote energy efficiency and resiliency,
- Introduce a Green Building Ordinance that will build on the progress King County has made to make its own facilities more energy efficient,
- Launch a pilot program that will help homeowners who earn a lower income transition from natural gas to clean energy,
- Roll out more battery-electric buses in communities with the greatest need for air quality improvements,
- Connect more people to the region’s growing, integrated rail and trail networks.
- King County C-PACER Program
- 2020 Strategic Climate Action Plan
- VIDEO: ‘Fierce urgency and shared purpose’: A regional strategy to confront climate change
Economic recovery and job creation can go hand-in-hand with greater sustainability and lower climate impacts. King County will be one of the largest local governments in the nation to offer low-interest loans from private lenders for climate and seismic upgrades for commercial and multi-family buildings. C-PACER will help us create the innovative solutions our region needs to re-engineer the built environment, making the places where we live, work, and gather more sustainable, more energy efficient and better prepared for climate impacts.
Having worked with Rep Duerr as the senate sponsor for this legislation in 2020, I am thrilled to see King County recognize the inherent value that it will bring to property owners, financial markets, and most importantly, our climate. This public-private partnership will aid in the County’s efforts to mitigate climate change, reduce carbon emissions, and strengthen resiliency by promoting clean energy upgrades and seismic retrofits to commercial, municipal, and multi-family residential buildings.
In order to take on climate change head on we are going to have to utilize innovative and creative approaches that not only help reduce GHG emissions but also incentivizes communities to make change. If approved, this new program will speed up the transition for buildings throughout our region to become more energy efficient and increase the use of clean energy sources. And, importantly, it will drive our economy, lead to more green jobs and reduce the cost of utilities in the long run. Not bad!
Because of upfront costs, existing buildings in particular are a challenge to retrofit to be more efficient and more resilient,” said Rachel Koller, Coordinator for Shift Zero, a zero carbon building alliance that supported the passage of state C-PACER legislation. “C-PACER is a proven financing tool that will enable healthier, safer, and more climate-friendly buildings. We are excited to support King County in advancing this program.
CPACER is coming to King County at the perfect time! Building owners in Seattle are looking to make upgrades to their buildings to improve occupant health while using this as an opportunity to enhance the efficiency of their facilities. CPACER can supply the capital for these upgrades that help Seattle 2030 District work towards a 50% reduction in energy use and stormwater management, creating a more sustainable and dynamic Seattle and King County.
The Seattle Kraken and Climate Pledge Arena are excited to support King County’s C – PACER program. We know firsthand from developing the world’s first net-zero Carbon Certified arena that high-performance buildings require not only commitment but good partners, skilled labor, and innovative technologies and financing. We thank Executive Constantine for his leadership in bringing this program forward, and working toward shared our goals for more sustainable, responsible, and safer facilities in our communities.
MacDonald-Miller, a full-service mechanical contractor in the Pacific NW, is excited to see C-PACER proposed. This will help spur investments in our customers’ buildings, saving energy and money, and creating jobs.
For more information, contact:
Chase Gallagher, Executive Office, 206-263-8537