Sources of GHG Emissions in Multnomah County (2013)
Sources of GHG Emissions in the County (2013)

In the 2015 update to the Climate Action Plan, Multnomah County, the City of Portland, and the Portland Development Commission committed to developing and expanding financing tools that support building energy efficiency and renewable energy retrofits. Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (CPACE) is such a financing tool. CPACE makes it easier for commercial building owners to invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy.  

CPACE is a financing mechanism that enables owners of commercial buildings to obtain low-cost, long-term loans for up to 100% of the cost of energy-efficiency and renewable energy improvements. CPACE helps commercial property owners overcome financial barriers that often discourage investment in energy retrofits.

CPACE leverages the stability of the property tax system to increase access to longer term capital for commercial energy projects. CPACE loans are secured by a property assessment ("benefit assessment lien") voluntarily imposed on the property by its owner with the consent of existing mortgage holders. 

CPACE’s innovative approach also helps overcome several barriers to investing in energy projects:

Commonwealth Building, Portland, OR
Commonwealth Building, Portland, OR

  • Loan repayment is tied to the property, not the borrower, and the loan can transfer with the improved property at sale.
  • Longer loan repayment means loan payments can be offset by savings from reduced energy use and the value of renewable energy generated.
  • No up-front costs are required to participate.
  • The building owner may be able to pass the cost of the loan to tenants along with the benefits of the energy improvements, eliminating the owner-tenant split incentive challenge.
  • The senior lien status of CPACE assessments substantially reduces the risk of non-payment, making CPACE loans very secure and attractive to long-term, risk-averse lenders.


  • Commercial, industrial, and multifamily (+5 units) properties located within Multnomah County
  • Energy efficiency and renewable energy measures including insulation, windows, HVAC systems, solar (PV and Thermal) and others that are permanently affixed to the building.

The Partnership:

Multnomah County, the Portland Development Commission, and Energy Trust of Oregon are partnering in the creation of a Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy program to serve Multnomah County. The Portland Development Commission will administer the CPACE program while the Energy Trust of Oregon provides technical resources. Multnomah County will provide overall program design support and file CPACE benefit assessment liens.

Local Economic Benefits:

According to a study by ECONorthwest commissioned by Multnomah County, approximately 2,800 out of 8,300 of Multnomah County's commercial building stock (excluding industrial and multifamily) is estimated to have higher than average energy-use and no evidence of having been retrofit in the recent past. CPACE will facilitate both increased building retrofits and also "deeper" retrofits that achieve more significant energy savings. According to the study, if the 1,016 commercial buildings identified as likely candidates for a CPACE program were to complete energy efficiency retrofits, the following benefits would accrue:

  • $38 million of net economic benefits to building owners and tenants from reduced energy costs
  • $16 million of economic benefit to society through reduced greenhouse gas emissions
  • $28 million of local economic activity due to production of local goods and services
  • $12 million dollars of increased personal income
  • 210 person-years of employment

The video below, by national PACE advocacy group PACENow, provides an overview of PACE. While our program differs slightly, the overall sequence is similar.


Multnomah County's Board of Commissioners approved resolutions to both locally authorize CPACE and enter into an intergovernmental agreement with Portland Development Commission for the administration of CPACE on September 3rd, 2015. Portland Development Commission's Board of Commissioners are scheduled to vote on initiating formal development of CPACE on September 9th, 2015. 


CPACE will be piloted over 24 months (September 2015 - 2017). During the pilot, the CPACE Partnership will develop the systems necessary to operate a CPACE program, and will develop several projects using CPACE financing. The pilot phase will also include the development and implementation of marketing, capitalization, equity, workforce, and contractor strategies.


Local Market Study: Feasibility of a Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Program for Commercial Buildings in Multnomah County, Oregon

Property Assessed Clean Energy national advocacy group: PACENow


To learn more, contact Sam Baraso,