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How to Use C-PACE with Utility Incentives

Financing is no longer an obstacle for completing full building upgrades. The two main opportunities available to reduce the financial burden of energy efficiency and sustainability projects are Chicago C-PACE and utility incentives. C-PACE, commercial property assessed clean energy, can be combined with utility incentives to maximize savings and minimize the project payback period.

C-PACE provides 100 percent long-term, fixed-rate financing for energy efficiency, resiliency, water conservation, and sustainability upgrades made to existing buildings and new developments. Through C-PACE, a beneficial assessment is attached to the building and is paid out through the property tax bill. Financing is collected with regular local real estate taxes and assessment payments are amortized over the useful life of the project, usually 15 to 25 years. Since C-PACE is linked to the property itself rather than the individual, C-PACE financing can transfer automatically to the new property owner without the cumbersome restrictions of typical bank financing. Commercial and multifamily property owners across Chicago can use C-PACE financing to lower both operating expenses and their cost of capital.

Examples of C-PACE projects include building envelope improvements, energy efficiency equipment retrofits, combined heat and power, roof replacements, solar and more. Project costs that are eligible for financing include materials and labor; project related work; financing costs, and soft costs such as building permits, inspections, commissioning, and audits.

Utility incentives on the other hand, can be used to cut down the upfront costs of energy efficiency projects. Lowering project costs further enhances the financial benefits as less capital will need to be financed through C-PACE. With thousands of eligible projects, C-PACE and utility incentives can remove financial barriers commonly associated with sustainability projects. Smart financing benefits property owners, tenants, contractors, communities, and mortgage lenders by increasing net operating income (NOI) and property value, improving aging infrastructure, advancing business developments, and lowering operating and maintenance costs.

Projects that would likely qualify for both C-PACE and utility incentives are LED lighting, variable speed drives, chiller or HVAC upgrades, automated building controls and most projects that reduce energy consumption. Aside from incentives, utility programs generally offer free building assessments to identify energy cost saving opportunities. Before beginning your next C-PACE project, assess your buildings to see what qualifies for incentives and maximize your savings.

To learn more about how you can save money and energy by combining C-PACE and utility incentives, contact us at 312-265-3971 or


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