Author Archives: Jonathan Cloud

Getting Your Local Business Up and Running

https://www.pexels.com/photo/woman-in-yellow-dress-standing-beside-clothes-rack-8484207/

[Guest post by Dean Burgess, Excitepreneur.net. Image from Pexels.]

While this post has some very basic ideas about getting started with a for-profit or non-profit enterprise, they are all keys to a much larger idea, that of creating your own story, your own vision, and your own possibility. This one grew out of a comment from our website saying simply, “There are many ways people can help out in their local community. Since entrepreneurship is my area of expertise, I’d love to write about how to move into a new city, plug in, and start a business to help your community.”—Ed.

Practical Steps for Getting Your Local Business Off the Ground

Becoming a local business owner is an excellent way to make a living while benefiting your community. Whether you want to start a small clothing boutique or a nonprofit that focuses on environmental issues, you will need to take some practical steps to ensure that your venture gets off to a strong start and has the foundation to succeed long term.

Find Your “Why”

First of all, make sure you are clear on your primary purpose for starting the business. What are you hoping to get out of it? Are you wanting to do your part in changing the world or simply provide for your household while doing something you love? Figuring out your main driver will help you get through the challenges ahead.

You will also want to make sure that you stay true to your core values no matter what obstacles or success you are experiencing. That said, you must remain adaptable in terms of your operations and strategies because the business landscape is constantly evolving.

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News Release: C-PACE Bill Passes in New Jersey

The Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy program, already approved in 37 states and D.C., with active programs in 24 states, is headed to the Governor’s desk for signature

Trenton, N.J. — On June 24 the New Jersey Legislature approved A2374/S1953 with overwhelming, bipartisan majorities in both the Assembly and Senate. The C-PACE (Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy) bill establishes the Garden State C-PACE Program, to be developed and overseen by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA).

The bill was sponsored by Assemblyman Raj Mukherji (D-Jersey City) and Senators Bob Smith (D-Piscataway) and Kip Bateman (R-Somerset).  This represents the culmination of a ten-year effort by New Jersey PACE (NJPACE), a 501c3 nonprofit organization, to amend NJ’s unworkable 2011 PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) statute.

The legislation establishes a program that, through a municipal ordinance, allows commercial property owners to privately finance energy efficiency, renewables, and resiliency projects and repay them over time through a special assessment on the property tax bill, similar to a sidewalk or sewer assessment. These projects are 100% financed with private sector capital—no taxpayer or public monies are used.

The NJ Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) is assigned administrative responsibility for the C-PACE program. No later than 270 days after Governor Murphy’s signing, NJEDA will publish rules and regulations for existing buildings, and 30 days later, for new construction and retroactive financing (projects completed within 3 years of their application). The top third of municipalities, by population, can establish local programs that conform to the NJEDA program. In the meantime, some projects can be approved by special exception by the Director of Local Government Services under the existing statute (PL2011, Ch.187)

What does the C-PACE law enable?

C-PACE can finance 100% of the hard and soft costs of energy efficiency, renewable energy, and resiliency projects. Projects are designed to be cash-flow positive from the start with low-cost, fixed-rate, long-term capital (up to 30 years, based on the average useful life of the improvements). Commercial property owners collect available incentives from federal, state, and local governments, so the financing covers the remaining costs. C-PACE capital is non-recourse, non-accelerating, transferable, and often treated as an off-balance sheet operating expense. The consent of the mortgage lender(s) is required.

Eligible improvements under the new bill include energy efficiency (lighting, HVAC, motors, windows, insulation, roofs, etc.); solar, wind, geothermal, and other forms of renewable energy; energy storage, microgrids, water conservation, stormwater, flood- and hurricane-resistant construction improvements; and electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

As defined in the bill, “property” means: “industrial, agricultural, or commercial property; residential property containing five or more dwelling units; common areas of condominiums and other planned real estate developments; and property owned by a tax-exempt or nonprofit entity, including, but not limited to, schools, hospitals, institutions of higher education, or religious institutions.” Other requirements include that improvements be permanently affixed to a property and be located in a municipality that has opted into the program.

What this could mean for New Jersey, if effectively implemented:

  • Cost savings on energy with no out-of-pocket expenses, attracting/retaining businesses
  • Well-paying green jobs (generating 12-15 person-years per million dollars invested)
  • Lower cost of capital for new development, gut/rehab, and adaptive reuse
  • Upgraded building stock, making communities more resilient and competitive
  • Reduced carbon footprint, contributing to climate goals and improving quality of life, especially in environmental justice communities

Buildings account for forty percent or more of greenhouse gas emissions overall, and 60-70% in older urban areas. C-PACE can go a long way towards halving, and then eliminating greenhouse gas emissions, helping New Jersey meet its Climate targets for 2030 and 2050. And since the program provides equal access to capital, C-PACE financing can positively impact low-income neighborhoods and communities of color that are often the most polluted.

Jonathan Cloud, Executive Director of New Jersey PACE, says, “We believe that local, trusted advisors are key to unleashing the power of C-PACE.  Our goal is to help scale C-PACE by mobilizing civic and industry leaders and their existing networks. Together, we can begin to turn the ship around and head in the direction of a clean, resilient, just, and regenerative society.”

Contact: Jonathan Cloud, Executive Director, 908-581-8418, jcloud@possibleplanet.org

New Jersey PACE (NJPACE), a longstanding champion for C-PACE in NJ, thanks the following for their sustained and concerted efforts to make C-PACE available in NJ:

  • Senators Bob Smith and Kip Bateman
  • Assembly members Raj Mukherji, James Kennedy, and former members Nancy Pinkin and Upendra Chivukula (now a BPU Commissioner)
  • Members of the Governor’s staff, the Department of Community Affairs, and NJEDA for their input
  • Cliff Kellogg, Executive Director, and members of the C-PACE Alliance, a network of capital providers committed to achieving C-PACE’s potential
  • Doug O’Malley, Director of Environment NJ
  • Colin Bishopp, Executive Director of PACENation, the national industry association
  • Genevieve Sherman, John C. Kinney, Abby Johnson, Bali Kumar and others, for ongoing C-PACE guidance
  • Emma Horst-Martz and NJ Public Interest Research Group (NJPIRG)
  • Attorney Bill Potter and retired Legislative Consultant Don Sico
  • Former Governor James Florio and other members of the NJPACE Advisory Council

For more information, please see:

NewJerseyPACE.org | RegenerativeFinancing.org | PossiblePlanet.org

Click here to download a PDF of the press release.

 

Possible Rochester C-PACE Initiative Launched

We’re pleased to announce the launch of our new initiative to support the introduction of C-PACE (Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy) in the City of Rochester.

As part of this, we are seeking to conduct a national demonstration project for what we call Community PACE and, at the hyperlocal level, “Neighborhood PACE,” as a way to scale up the adoption of C-PACE across the country. Some of this is further described at our new Rochester-focused websites, PossibleRochester.com (for business) and PossibleRochester.org, our community site (which is currently under construction).

The purpose of the demonstration project is to develop a replicable model for leveraging C-PACE for local economic development, climate action, and community regeneration.

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Executive Director’s Year-End Letter

The Climate Crisis and What We’re Doing About It

Financing the Transition to a Regenerative Economy
With the Aim of Restoring the Climate and the Earth

Download PDF version of our year-end letter here

Executive Director’s Year-End Letter 2019

“Being alive right now means rethinking boundaries, pushing on the walls of your imagination. It means feeling around in this world for another one.” (Dan Zak, “Everything is Not Going to Be Okay: How to Live with Constant Reminders that the Earth Is in Trouble,” Washington Post)

Dear Friends and Supporters,

2019 has been a pretty tumultuous year for us, including both substantial achievements and disappointing setbacks. The good news is that Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) legislation is on its way in New Jersey, with both the Legislature and the Governor endorsing some version of this long-awaited financing tool. We expect PACE to be operational in 2020, and it could be as early as first quarter.

The first version of PACE legislation was introduced and passed into law in 2011; unfortunately it was flawed, and the Christie Administration took advantage of these flaws to block any meaningful action. Our organization, operating as New Jersey PACE, has been seeking to amend this law for more than seven years, during which time we co-authored at least three prior versions that were rejected. While in retrospect it seems unreal, there were good reasons to believe that PACE could be implemented in each of these years, despite the resistance of the banking industry and of the Governor’s staff at the time.

Evolving and Expanding the PACE Model

But since PACE is still not available in New Jersey (and many other jurisdictions), we continue to seek demonstration projects for the two alternative clean energy financing approaches that we have developed in partnership with structured finance experts, including a major NJ social impact investment fund. Once successfully piloted, these “PACE/Alternatives,”* as we’ve called them, including our New InterCreditor Clean Energy (NICCE, pronounced “nice”) and Deed-registered Renewables & Energy Efficiency Measures (DREEM), will provide commercial property owners anywhere in the US with access to PACE-like financing, regardless of whether PACE is allowed in their jurisdiction.

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Possible Planet Holiday Party & Fundraiser – Saturday, Dec 14, 2019, 2-6 pm

You’re invited to our

 Join us for community, thoughtful discussion, and the opportunity to make a difference.

Saturday, December 14
2-6 p.m.
@ 8 Revere Drive, Basking Ridge, NJ

Bring something to share / BYOB
Bring your voices, instruments & holiday songs!

Meet people who care about restoring our communities and the climate.

Can’t Attend But Want to Support Us?

At the party, we’ll share our mission and initiatives, and you can contribute to the “mother ship,” Possible Planet, or earmark your donation to one of our initiatives:

Global Carbon Reward 
Ecovillage New Jersey 
Ecovillagers Alliance
New Jersey PACE / Regenerative Financing 
Possible Planet (General Fund)

 

Attend the Party

CRCS and Possible Planet

CRCS (our full legal name is Center for Regenerative Community Solutions, a NJ Nonprofit Corporation) is now also Possible Planet, and the larger part of our work is maintained and updated at www.PossiblePlanet.org. Apologies to several who have left feedback here but have not received an answer. (I have just discovered these entries, and plan to respond to them.)

Much of what is retained here is of archival interest only. But everything we’re now working on has grown out of the thinking and action, reflected here, about the development of solutions that help to strengthen the regenerative capacity of communities. We have principally focused on innovative financing methods for the transition to a clean economy, an economy that is sustainable over the long term, restores rather than damages the Earth, and provides a better living environment for everyone. This led us to initially concentrate on Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE), and create New Jersey PACE as an alternate identity, and subsequently on the development of “PACE Alternatives” that don’t require state legislation or municipal approval but can be done within existing contract law.

Along the way, we acquired three other projects as a “fiscal sponsor,” projects that represent further approaches to creating a more livable, healthful, and self-sustaining future. Two are related to the development of cohousing and ecovillage neighborhoods, Ecovillage New Jersey, and the Ecovillagers Alliance. The third is a global monetary policy proposal, to address the risk of a catastrophic shock to financial and economic systems (and the concurrent damage to the planet’s life support systems), called Global 4C (which stands for “complementary currencies for climate change”). The basic proposal is to issue a monetary reward for carbon sequestered or abated anywhere in the world, to anyone able to demonstrate that they are reducing emissions or withdrawing carbon from the atmosphere. Issuing such a reward requires only a very modest expansion of the money supply, accompanied by the creation of a greatly expanded economic sector devoted to cleaning up the mess we’ve already created. Currently we’re working on a case study to demonstrate how this can be done in the field of regenerative agriculture, working with various combinations of rock dust, biochar, and compost, to develop the most effective ways of sequestering CO2 in the soil where it supports the natural growth of the crops and livestock we need to survive.

What this leads to more broadly is an examination of what’s needed, ecologically, and how to invest what we need to get there. Financing ecosystem restoration, clean energy, and sustainable human habitation are all aspects of this that offer almost unlimited opportunity for a new generation of businesses, cooperatives, and community financial institutions to create sustainable growth, i.e., economic growth that restores, strengthens, and maintains natural systems instead of trashing them. So follow us, and join us, at PossiblePlanet.org.

This Saturday at Cooper Union: Voices of the Millennial Generation on Climate Change


This Saturday, February 24, 2018 we’re participating in a panel discussion on Mitigation and emerging solutions for addressing the climate change issue, along with a number of other speakers.

The event is from 1 to 6 p.m. in the Great Hall at Cooper Union (30 Cooper Sq, New York, NY 10003), with limited seating, so please RSVP or sign up for the live stream link at MillennialsWorld.org.

Here’s the current program  and list of speakers for the event:

Voices of a Generation – February 24, Event Speakers

Welcome: Joyce Freeling, President Millennials World

Keynote Panel: The World Millennials, Their Children, & Grandchildren Could Live In

  • Sophie Kivlehan, Granddaughter, Dr. James Hansen, Climate Scientist
  • James Hansen (Video) on the Science of Warming
  • Nicole Crescimanno, Columbia University, Rising Sea Level
  • Andrew Herrera, Ramapo College, Harsher Weather
  • Annaisabele DeJesus, Heat Waves & Health
  • Ariana Freitag, The Cooper Union, Deforestation, Species Extinctions, Ocean Acidification
  • Sophie Schneider, The Cooper Union, Food Insecurity
  • Anastasia Caulfield, Ramapo College, Climate Refugees

Actions: Fee & Dividend (Citizens’ Climate Lobby) – Children’s Trust Federal Law Suit
(Polling) 

Mitigation & Solutions Underway – Developed World/Developing World

  • Miriam Horn, Environmental Defense Fund, Author & Film Maker
  • Jonathan Cloud, Director, NJPACE, Financing Renewable Energy for Communities
  • Toby Cumberbatch, Founder, Center for Sustainable Engineering, Art and Architecture – Materials, Manufacturing and Minimalism (SEA2M3)

(Polling)

Pathways to Sustainability – Promise for the Future – The World Millennials Can Change

Students from Columbia University, Earth Institute:

  • Sarah Ann Burns, Harnessing Natural Sources of Energy
  • Megan Ross, Urban Sustainability
  • Andrea Christina Ruiz, Regenerating Forests, Sustainable Food Production
  • Miriam Nielsen, Communicating the Value of Sustainability to Society
  • Jesse Thorson, The Need for New Narratives

(Polling)

A New Social Compact – Shift to Long-Term Thinking & Responsibility to Successor Generations

  • Joyce Freeling

Art & Design Charrette – Transforming Statements in Graphics (Millennial Visions)

  • Mike Ryan
  • Patrick Schlitzer
  • Danny Castillo

Announcement of Step-into-the-Future Social Media Competition

 

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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A Possible Planet?

We’re in the processing of “re-branding” ourselves as Possible Planet (www.possibleplanet.org, of course). So what does this re-branding mean, and why are we doing it?

By “we” we mean here the Center for Regenerative Community Solutions, our 501(c)(3) umbrella entity under which we house a number of our own and others’ projects. These include not only global and local projects, but pretty much also every level in between. So not only are we concerned with what’s needed for “A Possible Planet” (the title of our forthcoming book), but we’re also working on Possible New Jersey (www.possiblenj.org) and Possible Bound Brook (www.possibleboundbrook.org) as examples of the application of what is really the paradigm-shifting model behind Possible Planet.

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