Washington’s application of PACE financing to an affordable housing project is saving the property money as it promotes climate and energy equity.

Washington, D.C., is using the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing tool, along with public housing capital funds and private investment, to support the $16.8-million rehabilitation of the Phyllis Wheatley YWCA, which hosts 82 units of affordable housing for homeless women in transition in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood. PACE provided 100% of the upfront capital for the project, which includes high-efficiency HVAC equipment and controls, lighting, domestic water heating, and plumbing systems, as well as a 32.7-kW solar PV system, which together will reduce energy consumption by 25%.

114 metric tons of CO2 reduced annually by the retrofit of the Wheatley YWCA

Cities100 – 2016

While PACE financing is available in most of the USA, this project marks the first time it has been approved for a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development-assisted mixed finance public housing property. By making it work in tandem with affordable housing subsidies, the novel mechanism enables rents to remain low enough the property can remain as public affordable housing for at least 40 years at the same time it decreases its ecological footprint.

The challenge

Affordable housing properties and non-profits often have major deferred maintenance needs and struggle with the burden of high utility bills. Additionally, the upfront cost of efficiency improvements can put these technologies out of reach for many. By applying PACE financing to an affordable housing project, Washington, D.C., is bringing sustainability measures to an under-served market and proving that green retrofits and housing affordability can be mutually reinforcing.


Economic The Wheatley YWCA owners are expected to save about $5,000 in utility and operations expenses each year, which reduces rents for women offered shelter in the facility.

Environmental This project will reduce the property’s energy use by 24% and its water use by 47%.

Health This project was supported by the Department of Behavioral Health, which provides ongoing supportive services, and mental health and substance abuse counseling to women in need.

Social The project is designed to ensure that current residents of Phyllis Wheatley YWCA, a non-discriminatory residence for women in precarious situations, can remain in their homes and not be displaced.

About Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C., commonly referred to as “Washington”, or simply “D.C.”, is the capital of the United States. Washington had an estimated population of 681,170 as of July 2016. Commuters from the surrounding Maryland and Virginia suburbs raise the city’s population to more than one million during the workweek.

Washington D.C.

Washington, D.C.
View profile

Global Goals addressed