Many people understand from their own experience that cities are often hotter than rural areas. Research suggests a difference of 6 to 8ºF. As cities develop, trees and vegetated areas are reduced, natural surfaces are paved, and buildings constructed.
Texas Property Assessed Clean Energy
Introduction to PACE
In 2013, the State of Texas legislator passed the Texas PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) Act. PACE is a voluntary financing tool that helps owners of existing commercial, non-profit, industrial, and multifamily (5+ unit) properties invest in energy efficiency, water conservation and distributed generation improvements with little or no upfront capital outlay. The first PACE region was created by Travis County in 2015 and since that time, an additional 16 regions have been created across the State. The 17 regions cover over 40% of the Texas population.
PACE financing is demonstrating itself as a successful financing tool for increasing clean energy investment. To date, a total of $35 million dollars have been invested into clean energy projects and have led to the creation of over 255 new jobs.
To monitor and track this investment activity, the TX-PACE Energy and Emissions Tracker was created in partnership with the Texas PACE Authority, the state-wide administrator of TX-PACE. This interactive tool allows viewers to see how TX-PACE projects are reducing energy and water consumption, lowering emissions, and providing significant economic benefits. The status of TX-PACE can be reviewed for each region or at the state-wide level.
The homepage is designed to provide state wide information on TX-PACE performance. The top of the site has a bubble chart that shows energy savings and dollars invested for each region, on the X and Y axis, by year. The size of the bubble is determined by population size of the region. The bubble chart is animated and changes years every few seconds, beginning with 2016. The chart ends the animation on a cumulative total. Users can mouse over each bubble and region specific data appears in a dialogue box.
Following the bubble chart are four bar graphs that show longitudinal data specific to energy savings, water savings, emission reductions and total investment. These charts illustrate previous year totals, as well as current year project totals. The colors for the current years, in this example 2017, are in different shades. The darker color indicates performance of previous year’s projects and the lighter color indicates current year project information.
On the bottom of the homepage is a map of Texas that has PACE Regions highlighted in blue. This map shows a specific region’s performance summaries or a state-wide summary. This section also includes a roll-up of all state level data, including energy savings, power production, water savings, investment, and jobs created.
Each region has its own page. Each page displays a variety of data points including regional economics, energy and water savings, projects completed and emission reductions. For regional economics, data includes total investment, jobs created and average payback for all regional projects. On this page, there are four graphs that track energy savings, water conservation, emission reduction and investment over time. This is tracked on a yearly basis and provides current year and cumulative information. The color scheme is the same as the homepage. In this example, there were no new projects in 2017. All three projects were completed in 2016. The 2017 bars indicate performance from these three projects. If there were new projects in 2017, there would a lighter color resting on top of the darker existing bar to get a cumulative performance total. Users can also look at individual yearly performance by toggling the darker blue “All” button and choosing the year of interest. Project profiles can be access from each region page by clicking on the white Projects box. This will take a user to the Projects page.
Data Collection and Sharing
The data in the interactive tool is provided by TX-PACE funded projects. The data is collected individually and then aggregated within each region and at the state level. To simplify data collection, we use the EPA's ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager® (ESPM). ESPM is a no-cost, interactive, online data collection and tracking platform that is the standard data collection tool for building operators and owners. For data collection, we work directly with project developers, building owners and operators to set up their accounts and assist with establishing the baseline energy and water usage in ESPM for each project. We ask the building owners and operators to update their utility bill data each year. This data inputted in ESPM is assessed for errors/outliers, weather normalized and presented in the aggregate with all other projects in a region. The tool also tracks emission reductions per project, at a regional and state level with the assistance of the EPA's AVERT model (AVoided Emissions and geneRation Tool). The AVERT tool is used to determine actual emission reductions for CO2, NOx and SO2 based on energy savings. ESPM consumption data is reviewed on an annual basis to account for changes in occupancy, use and operating hours, providing accurate energy and water savings of projects over time.
There is significant concern from the building community in regards to sharing data and to whom their data is accessible. The concern is that poor performing buildings may be at a marketing disadvantage if data is shared on their building performance. Further, there is concern by the industrial sector that individual building data will provide confidential data to competitors about operating processes.
We have worked with project developers, building owners and associations, and the Texas PACE Authority to develop the appropriate process and documentation to best ensure the confidentiality of individual building data.
The Projects page allows for a search of the entire list of projects. Only projects approved by the building owner are listed here. The project page can be filtered in a variety of ways to customize the search. Projects can be filtered by region, by measures installed, by investment size, by building size, building type and date project completed. The page also contains a map where each region is identified. Each of these regions can be selected. Based on the region selected, the projects for that region will be listed. For each project listed, the blue “View” button can be clicked that will open up a project specific page with project details, as well as a picture of the project. The image below indicates the three completed projects for Travis County.
We would like to thank the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation for the generous support to develop this online tool. We would also like to thank the Texas State Energy Conservation Office for additional support to allow for ongoing maintenance of the tool.