Category Archives: New Jersey

February 28 Event at Rutgers: Transitioning NJ to 100% Renewables

Our friends at Food and Water Watch write:

With every year of delayed action, we move closer to runaway climate catastrophe. Pollution from our current energy system is already taking a massive toll on our public health and safety, with disproportionate impacts on low income and communities of color. And nearly a dozen new fossil fuel expansion projects are currently proposed in New Jersey, including several dirty, dangerous oil and gas pipelines through our irreplaceable water sources.

Join us for an important event on climate change and dirty energy development in New Jersey, and learn how we can transition the state to 100% renewables!

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Restarting the Clean Energy Revolution in New Jersey

New Jersey is about to experience a surge of new clean energy projects, unleashing a considerable amount of additional private financing for energy efficiency and renewables.

Amendments to NJ’s existing PACE law are being passed in the NJ Legislature this month. Governor Christie has the opportunity to sign this legislation before he leaves office. Given that the new bill includes amendments based on his 2015 conditional veto, Governor Christie could (and we think, should) sign Commercial-only PACE legislation as part of his economic legacy.

PACE — Property Assessed Clean Energy — is a new source of financing for commercial projects. More than a dozen states have PACE programs which have collectively financed almost half a billion dollars worth of projects across the US and created almost 7,500 jobs. And this is just the tip of the iceberg of new construction and retrofit projects that are eligible for this new form of financing

For a general description of PACE see What is PACE?

The key benefits of Commercial PACE are that it:

  • Saves property owners money on energy
  • Creates local jobs and economic development
  • Helps the environment by reducing carbon emissions

The most appealing features of Commercial PACE for energy efficiency, renewable energy and resiliency financing are that it:

  • Covers 100% up front financing, including project development costs, and can be off-balance sheet
  • Allows terms of up to 30 years, allowing projects to be cash-flow positive from the start
  • Remains with the building upon sale
  • Allows payments to be passed along to tenants, resolving the split incentive issue
  • Increases the value and competitiveness of the building

Property owners can receive subsidies and incentives from the NJ Clean Energy Program, and use PACE financing to finance 100% of the remaining hard and soft costs.

Other potential sources of energy-improvement financing include state programs such as the proposed Public Bank, a possible Green Bank, and the New Jersey Resilience Bank (which has already committed all of its available funds). But each of these is likely to take longer to implement than PACE, requiring additional legislative approvals.

The distinguishing feature of PACE is that it does not involve any public funds, is wholly decentralized through the municipalities and the private sector, and is not managed by the state. It can get off the ground immediately, and make a substantial impact on creating jobs and reducing emissions.


Ramping up both public and private funding

Our preliminary estimates suggest that the potential for clean energy improvements of commercial properties in New Jersey may be more than $75 billion, including renewables and efficiency improvements, even a fraction of which is capable of creating an enormous boost in jobs and economic development.

What this means is that PACE could rapidly exceed the current level of public clean energy financing in the state, potentially more than doubling the extent of market transformation. Commercial PACE can provide 100%, non-recourse, and off-balance-sheet financing for a wide range of projects; or simply bridge the gap between what the Clean Energy Program provides and the total cost of the project. In addition, there are other innovative financing structures that have been devised specifically to take the place of PACE where PACE is not yet available. So the private market is going to drive the transition further and faster than ever.


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New Directions for 2017

CRCS will be moving in several new directions this year, which we think will be of interest to a wider audience than just those of us interested in financing clean energy. We’ve been focusing more on communities in the past year, and on the values and vision that led to our mission, to assist local communities and neighborhoods to become more resilient in the face of the widening impacts of a changing climate.

We are proposing to work with one or two towns in New Jersey on their revitalization and self-renewal. Culture actually holds the key to greater local resilience, alongside the physical transformation of communities into eco-communities. And organization is what’s needed to transform culture. We are planning to create “civic cooperatives” that will lead these communities into a positive self-generating future. Many communities are today experiencing decline, or struggling to ignite a self-renewal, within the broader context of the need for a world for a world that shifts carbon from the atmosphere back into the soil. The cooperative model has proven itself to be more enduring, more beneficial, and often more valuable to communities than the conventional marketplace business model.

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NJPACE Launching a Coalition for PACE in New Jersey

C4Plogo2In the wake of Governor Christie’s conditional veto of A2579/S1510, New Jersey PACE is initiating a coalition of key players to:

(a) resolve any issues standing in the way of a new, comprehensive, and workable bill — acceptable to all constituencies, insofar as possible — that initiates the development of a robust and secure PACE industry, and

(b) develop an industry alliance that helps expand the program to all sectors and all corners of the state.

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Updates: July-August 2015

Our main focus at this point is building out New Jersey PACE, an open-market platform for commercial PACE deals anywhere in the state. The critical amending legislation (A2579/S1510) passed at the end of June; we are now waiting for the front office review and the Governor’s signature. In the meantime we reviewing and revising parts of our web presence to make them more accessible and self-evident. We anticipate a significant backlog of projects once the law is signed, and we want to make the process as easy as possible for everyone to understand and implement.

At the same time, CRCS as an engine of change is continuing to evolve new projects – some our own, built on or around the PACE model; and some from others, such as Dr. Delton Chen’s Global4C project, which is attracting worldwide attention. We’re gradually getting into various models of “fiscal sponsorship” for organizations and projects that we see as compatible with or related to our mission. In most cases — such as our Regenerative Cohousing initiative — our goal is to bring these projects in-house, under our own umbrella; but in a couple of instances we may support fledgling organizations until they get their own IRS exemption.

Finally, we’re exploring further opportunities for individuals to profit from the transition to renewable energy — from the bulk purchase of green energy, the installation of solar with no upfront cost to the property owner, to the use of PACE in underserved communities and distressed neighborhoods. Stay tuned.

Acknowledging Our New Jersey PACE Sponsors

After 3 years of working to bring PACE to New Jersey, and close to a real launch, we have scheduled The New Jersey PACE Summit – the first of its kind event for PACE in NJ. We are seeking Founding Sponsorships and Event Sponsorships, a schedule of which you can view at NJPACE-Sponsorship.

From the Sponsors’ perspectives, they’re passionate about being able to award dollars for something they believe in and want to support, while gaining recognition and acknowledgement far beyond what they could get through paid advertising.

Our goal in recognizing our Sponsors is therefore to convey something significant about them, and about their support for us.

MSL-LogoHeaderSM2Our first Founding Sponsor is an out-of-state company — MSL Group — that’s been doing PACE projects in other states. It’s ironic, perhaps, that no local company or firm would jump into the water as a Founding Sponsor. But it’s an indication of what energy services firms who are operating in states where PACE is thriving, know, that NJ firms don’t yet know: that PACE is actually as good as it sounds, for every stakeholder.

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NJ PACE 2015 Summit to Focus on What’s Possible for New Jersey

The theme of this year’s New Jersey PACE Summit is “PACE: what’s possible for New Jersey?” The subtitle gives part of the answer: “Resiliency • Clean Energy • Jobs”— these are the major elements of the story, that will be explored at the conference. And there’s more to it as well — PACE can provide regenerative community benefits, support new technologies, and foster new approaches to the global challenges of our times.

PACE, which stands for “Property Assessed Clean Energy,” is redefined in NJ’s new amending legislation to include “the purchase, lease, or installation, or any combination thereof, of renewable energy systems or the energy produced by such systems, energy efficiency improvements, water conservation projects, flood resistant construction projects, hurricane resistant construction projects, storm shelter projects, or safe room projects, undertaken by property owners on properties within a municipality.”

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Developing Regenerative Cohousing

regencohousingWhile we’re working hard on what we expect to be an avalanche of PACE projects once the new law is passed, we’ve been giving serious consideration to where and how we might want to live during this next few years of our lives. Like many others in our age group, we’re officially “empty-nesters,” and are looking to live “more lightly” on the land. We’d also like to be part of a genuine community, where we have deeper relationships with our neighbors, and can work together to bring about more rapid social change.

This has led us to a growing interest in intentional communities, ecovillages, and cohousing. The most practical and least controversial of these is cohousing, where a small neighborhood of 10-35 families share a large common facility, and live in smaller-footprint individual homes around this common space


Cohousing itself is not new; pioneered in Denmark in the 1970s, it was introduced into the U.S. by Kathryn McCamant and Charles Durrett more than 35 years ago. There are more than 700 cohousing neighborhoods in Denmark today, many in other European countries as well as Australia and New Zealand, and close to 150 in the United States, with another hundred or so in various stages of development.

New Jersey is something of an anomaly in having no completed cohousing developments. In our view there is considerable interest and potential for development. And it is a uniquely appropriate vehicle for the kinds of “regenerative community solutions” we are seeking to introduce to NJ communities in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.

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NJ Appleseed: Embedding Sustainable Development & Land Use into Public Policy – March 23, 2015

CRCS and New Jersey PACE Executive Director Jonathan Cloud will be one of the speakers at the NJ Appleseed event on “Embedding Sustainable Development & Land Use into Public Policy” on March 23 at Seton Hall Law School in Newark, NJ. The day-long event, featuring Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop along with a line-up of other prominent speakers, will address a variety of timely issues related to sustainable development in New Jersey:

Development in New Jersey is a hot-button issue, with strong feelings on both sides. Some believe it is out of control, and cite strip malls springing up almost overnight, and mass numbers of townhomes covering the once-pristine suburban hillsides. Others argue that development brings jobs and other tangible benefits, and is key to the State’s economic future. Like it or not, development in New Jersey is here to stay. But can development be a force for good? Can we lessen the environmental impact, or better yet, reinforce overall sustainability and resiliency in New Jersey communities, create more affordable homes for our citizens, and stabilize neighborhoods? At this New Jersey Appleseed Public Policy Forum we will explore efficient and ethical land use policies, discuss private sector concerns and ways to address opposition, focus on how implementing ‘green’ can impact the bottom line, look at the ways that affordable housing can help create sustainable, safe, and strong communities, and examine strategies to reduce risk from new policies, among other important issues.

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NJ Ranked 34th State in Terms of Wellbeing

As noted in NJSpotlight (Feb. 20, 2015), New Jersey was ranked 34th out of 50 states in the most recent State of American Wellbeing index of the 2014 Gallup-Healthways Index report. The study takes into account how people feel about their life’s purpose, social and financial life, physical health, and community.

According to the NJSpotlight story,

The two areas in which New Jersey severely underperformed the rest of the country were purpose and community. Purpose was defined as liking what you do each day and being motivated to achieve goals. In this area New Jersey only ranked 43rd. And New Jersey’s leaders should take serious note of the ranking of 48 for community. This element was defined as liking where you live, feeling safe, and taking pride in your community.

This clearly underlines the need for the kinds of “regenerative community solutions” that we’re seeking to foster through our nonprofit. And it also shows how poorly NJ’s economic and political class are doing in serving the needs of the state overall.