As climate action protests emerged around the globe last week, another Michigan city signed on to tackle energy waste in its biggest industries. Sterling Heights has joined forces with Lean & Green Michigan
(LAGM) to launch an energy efficiency program, in an effort to encourage environmentally-friendly business practices.
Buildings consume 43% of energy in the United States, and 30% of this consumption is wasted due to inefficiency. Many businesses do not invest in renewable energy measures because it takes too long to see any payback benefits, but city officials in Sterling Heights hope to change this with a new Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program.
City leadership is hopeful the PACE program will help change that and encourage more commercial property owners to invest in renewable energy measures.
“We are joining 42 other local governments who have joined LAGM to complete $26 million worth of commercial PACE projects in Michigan to date,” says Sterling Heights Mayor Michael Taylor.
“With all the commercial and industrial properties we have throughout the city, we can have a significant positive impact on the environment by encouraging property owners to take advantage of the PACE program. PACE will also help property owners save on their utility bills for years to come. It’s a win-win.”
The program is a long-term financing tool, available to commercial property owners, to pay for energy and water efficiency and renewable energy upgrades. LAGM encourages local governments to join the PACE program for free, which draws financing from private lenders rather than city funds.
LAGM Chief Executive Officer Bali Kumar says the partnership with Sterling Heights is a "particularly exciting" one because of the city's mulit-faceted approach with websites, press releases, and announcements to launch the initiative.
"We hope that property owners take great advantage of the program," says Kumar. "And we stand by ready to assist in the process."
The program means property owners receive 100% pre-funding for energy saving upgrades on their facilities and pay the PACE loan back through an assessment of their property taxes. Financing is up to 25 years, or the useful life of the project, with a fixed interest rate and no upfront cost.
Sterling Heights city officials say qualifying upgrades for the program can include energy efficiency like lighting and HVAC, water efficiency like low-flow toilets and storm water recapture, and renewable energies like solar, wind, and geothermal. Upgrades can be part of projects including retrofits, gut rehabs, or new construction. There are no formal limits, but PACE projects are generally larger than $100,000.