President Preckwinkle Launches Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy Program to Finance Energy Efficiency, Water Conservation, and Renewable Energy Projects Across Cook County

Today, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle joined Cook County Commissioners Moore and Degnen, Calumet City Mayor Michelle Markiewicz-Qualkinbush, leaders from the Cook County Bureau of Economic Development and the Illinois Energy Conservation Authority and community partners to announce the launch of the Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy program (C-PACE). 

The C-PACE program provides long-term, fixed-rate funding to private building owners for energy efficiency projects to be installed in both existing and new commercial properties across Cook County.

“The C-PACE program provides us with an opportunity to redefine our approach to creating sustainable green practices and spur renewable energy investments in our County’s building infrastructure,” said President Preckwinkle.  “This is a forward-thinking and necessary resource that will provide jobs and enhance the County’s ongoing efforts as a thought-leader in our fight against climate change.”

C-PACE financing is currently available in 37 states, now including Illinois, and has funded more than 2,500 qualifying projects nationwide for a total of $2 billion. Nationally, the program is credited with creating over 22,400 jobs between 2009 to 2020. 

Introduced in Illinois in 2019, C-PACE offers commercial property owners a financial tool to spread energy and water project costs over a term of up to 20 years and repay them through an assessment on their property tax bill with no upfront capital outlay.

“Cook County’s passing of C-PACE legislation provides a significant opportunity to drive economic development, growth and education of the program’s benefits to local constituents,” said Mark Pikus, President of the IECA. “We look forward to assisting Cook County commercial real estate owners in implementing energy efficient capital improvements that not only enhance the net operating income and value of the property, but also provide an array of benefits from job creation and business retention to tax savings.”  

C-PACE provides commercial and industrial building capital for PACE projects that may lower operating costs, generate clean energy, instill resiliency and promote water use conservation in commercial properties. 

“The County is proud to partner with the Illinois Energy Conservation Authority to bring developers and building owners an attractive way to finance capital intensive building modernization projects,” said Xochitl Flores, Bureau Chief of Economic Development.  “We are eager to engage the growing list of developers interested in the long-term benefits C-PACE will offer to enhance our sustainability efforts in Cook County.”

Interest in the C-PACE program is growing as more developers and owners learn about the benefits for positive cashflow projects. Jake Counne, founder and CEO of Wilder Fields, who hosted today’s launch is applying to C-PACE to finance some of his commercial vertical farm’s capital expenses for advanced technology. Their patent-pending equipment significantly reduces consumption of energy and water, two critical factors in making Wilder Field’s 135,000 square-foot vertical farm energy-savvy and profitable.

“By making C-PACE resources available to companies like Wilder Fields, President Preckwinkle is lowering what can feel like an almost insurmountable barrier to entry for innovators like us.  While Wilder Fields has solid financial backing, access to programs like C-PACE with very favorable terms accelerates our ability to grow in an organic and responsible way,” says Counne.      

The program provides financing for a variety of improvements, including new heating or cooling systems, lighting, water pumps, insulation, solar panels and other renewable energy projects.  

“This is as an innovative tool that will provide companies with low-cost, long-term financing and investment for energy efficiency, renewable energy, water conservation, and facility resiliency projects. Even more importantly, it will have a positive impact on the environment we leave for our children as well,” Calumet City Mayor Michelle Markiewicz-Qualkinbush said.

Eligible properties include office buildings, hotels, retail, agricultural, non-profits, industrial buildings and multi-family properties – with five or more units. Projects must be located in Cook County to apply.

For more information or to apply for C-PACE financing, visit the Cook County website at: www.cookcountyil.gov/CPACE.