The economic and environmental need to transition to a low-carbon economy is now at the forefront of energy science, engineering, and policy discussions in the U.S. and internationally. Former Vice President Gore has called for a 100% decarbonization over 10 years and California, Japan, and the UK are notable for a growing list of municipalities legislating 70% or more decarbonization goals over the next four to five decades. Thus far much of the effort has been focused on technology and policy solutions, with very little attention given to how this change can be enabled through financing.
A critical arena for this transformation is in buildings, which account for 72% of the electricity use and 36% of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. Many of the more stringent laws, such as Title 24 in California, target new buildings. However, the pressing need exists to also address, and even target, our current building stock of homes and commercial spaces. Buildings have many-decade lifetimes. As a result, without a targeted effort to reduce energy demand in existing buildings it may be virtually impossible to meet greenhouse gas reduction targets established by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and adopted by local municipalities, states, and nations.
Pace is a very simple plan that enables property owners (residential and commercial) to install electric and thermal solar systems, make energy efficiency improvements to their buildings, and pay for the cost over 20 years through a special tax on their property tax bills that transfers to the next owner upon property resale.