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Top things to know about using PACE Financing for water-efficiency projects

Here at the Texas Livings Waters Project, we focus on the efficient use of water in our communities so that there is enough water in our creeks, rivers, and lakes for both people and the environment. We look for water savings everywhere. That’s why when there are new opportunities for major savings, we take every chance we get to spread the word! As PACE is a newer funding mechanism, we are eager to engage more and more Industrial, Commercial, and Institutional (ICI) water users in ways that they can fund their water efficiency projects.

Lately we’ve been having some great discussions with ICI professionals about the Property Accessed Clean Energy (PACE) program, which finances energy- and water-efficiency loans for commercial, industrial, and institutional property owners. This low-cost, long-term loan program was the focus of our recent webinar, PACE – A New Tool for Big Water Savings in the ICI Sector.

If you missed our webinar, don’t worry – here are some of our favorite takeaways:

So, what is PACE Financing and what’s the process?

PACE is an innovative financing program that allows property owners of commercial and industrial properties to obtain low-cost, long-term loans for water conservation, energy-efficiency improvements, and distributed generation retrofits.

As Texas is a drought-prone state where the impacts on the availability of surface water are long-felt, programs like PACE that can reduce water use on existing buildings are much needed. Advantages of PACE include that funds are available upfront for the cost of constructing the project, the property assessment transfers upon sale to the buyer of the property and the program can be used to fund both energy and water efficiency projects.

PACE is growing in Texas, and your county or city may be next in line to benefit from this financing.

   

 

Before applying for funding, learn from a PACE success

The “Mall Updates” case study discussed during our webinar can serve as an example of potential indoor water savings. This was a $4 million project between three malls that quantified the water and financial savings from these projects. With the water efficiency upgrades the owner and tenants will save $500,000 per year in reduced utilities and 2.4 million gallons of water per year!

Data and transparency are your new best friends

Moving on to opportunities in outdoor water savings, David Clements discussed managing outdoor water use in the ICI sector via water efficiency strategies, and how to use data as a key part of these strategies.

Outdoor irrigation uses a significant amount of water and there is a lot of opportunity for improvement. It’s rarely managed by someone incentivized to use water efficiently or who has the tools needed for efficient water management.

To manage water more efficiently, Clements recommended creating a “Continuous Improvement” feedback loop. This means that “having water-related data can help to support your business case to get the water infrastructure projects you want done.  You can find out early whether it is financially beneficial to do each optimization and efficiency project on your property.”

The Continuous Improvement Feedback Loop:  > Track > Analyze > Optimize > Verify >

Don’t forget indoor water savings

There are also great water savings to be realized in indoor water use. From replacing old toilets and sinks with high-efficiency fixtures to updating water coolers, using PACE for water-efficient upgrades is more than able to garner high water savings in buildings. ICI and multi-family residential make up about 52% of all water users in Texas and are eligible to use PACE financing if PACE has been adopted in their area.

 

Out of the 5.7 million acre-feet of water used for urban and industrial water use in 2015, 53% of this, or 3.01 million acre-feet of water is eligible for PACE Financing.

TIP: Both energy and water projects are eligible for PACE Financing, and saving one usually saves the other. This is particularly true for hot water use.

We are proud to have introduced the webinar PACE – A New Tool for Big Water Savings in the ICI Sector, highlighting the innovative subject of how Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing can be utilized to incorporate water conservation upgrades alongside energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades in buildings.  We look forward to continuing to bring ICI water users and utilities alike relevant water saving opportunities.

Learn more about PACE and how it could benefit you by checking out our webinar slides and materials.

 

A big thank you to our participants and presenters!

Ruthie Redmond

Ruthie Redmond

Water Resources Specialist at Sierra Club - Lone Star Chapter
Raised in Austin, Texas, Ruthie is working towards a more sustainable and equitable future. She takes pride in her roles stewarding the responsible management of our natural resources as well as engaging in community conversations around social and environmental justice. Outside of work Ruthie lives an introverted life of enjoying the wind and appreciating the various repeating patterns of the natural world.
Ruthie Redmond

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