Boynton hopes to increase green footprint with residential program
Originally published on mypalmbeachpost.com
September 8, 2016 By Alexandra Seltzer
BOYNTON BEACH — Boynton Beach is one of several places in Palm Beach County that offers a program where commercial property owners can connect with a vetted company to put up money for energy efficient and wind resistant improvements. The work could later be paid off by the owner as an assessment on the property tax bill.
It never really took off.
But now, residential properties have been brought into the mix. Boynton officials hope residents take advantage of the program, which would help achieve the city’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 18 percent by 2035, said Andrew Mack, the city’sdirector of development.
“It’s an easy way to finance things that some people might not have the money to put down. And it also promotes energy efficiency in the city,” Mack said.
Four companies offer the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program in the county. One, Renew Financial, previously known as Florida Green Finance Authority, launched the residential phase in July.
The company has since received about 20 applications for projects worth about $450,000 in cities including Boynton, Delray Beach, Lake Worth, Lantana and West Palm, said Erin Deady, an attorney speaking on behalf of Renew. The average project cost is about $22,000.
Eligible improvements include:
- Installing insulation or energy-efficient heating, cooling, or ventilation systems
- Building modifications to increase the use of daylight
- Installing systems where energy is produced from hydrogen, solar energy, geothermal energy, bioenergy, and wind energy
- Creating a secondary water barrier to prevent water intrusion
- Installing wind-resistant shingles
The program became state law in 2010. More than 30 states offer it. The law allows local governments to use the property tax bill for owners to pay the money back. The residential portion was pushed back because of concerns from lenders Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac, but officials say that has been resolved.
This past week at the Boynton City Commission meeting, the elected officials voted to continue working with Renew Financial in the residential phase. They also plan to allow another program administrator, Ygrene, to do business in the city.
In West Palm Beach, the commercial part of the program already has been successful, said Penni Redford, the city’s sustainability manager. E & M Wines & Spirits on Tamarind Avenue and Brandsmart off Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard both made lighting and air conditioning upgrades. E & M also had solar panels installed on the roof. The projects combined are worth about $2.75 million.
“Now that it’s moving to residential there are many more potential projects out there with all of the residences and in our area a good many are older homes that could use some weatherization and hurricane hardening that is offered,” Redford said.