By Hailey O’Connor
Thanks to Corey Ahlawat, the leading East Coast expert in Property Assessment Clean Energy (PACE) financing, “going green” is easier than ever. Ahlawat, a New York based commercial banker and President and CEO of Centurion Financial, has been in the business for 20 years. Withstanding the highs and lows of 2008, Ahlawat has learned to be on the lookout for “what’s next” in the finance industry. His watchful eye and innovative mindset propelled him to the forefront of financing, as he closed the largest commercial PACE transaction in the state of New York to date.
Property Assessment Clean Energy financing dominates the West Coast because of Ahlawat’s Californian partner, Shawn Heyl. PACE can finance 100% of the costs of a building’s retro-fitting or new construction, as long as it is an energy efficient/renewable project. For instance, heating and cooling systems, electricity, and windows would be made more efficient. As the efficacy of the building is improved, no longer will your heat (and money!) slip out through cracks in the window. The efficiency of the building offsets the money you are borrowing, thus making the daily operations cheaper in the long run. As if that deal wasn’t sweet enough, as the financing is property assessed, there is no personal guarantee. Statewide and county-by-county legislation must be passed to allow such financing, but when the East Coast finally caught up to its cross-continental friends, Ahlawat hit the ground running.
Recapitalizing Shrub Oak International School
The ink on the PACE legislation had hardly dried before Ahlawat provided much needed capital to Shrub Oak International School, a now world-class therapeutic day and boarding school for students on the autism spectrum. The pandemic had shuttered new student enrollment at Shrub Oak’s doors before they ever had a chance to fully open. Ahlawat explained, “Shrub Oak school was put on crutches by COVID, saddled by the shutdown and needed to reinvest in making the school COVID-safe for students,” notably because no schools were open at the time. Shrub Oak went to virtually every bank in New York, asking for more operating capital to fund coronavirus-related safety measures, such as air filtration and personal protective equipment. When they came to Ahlawat, he dug deep into the history and construction of the school; he recognized the campus’ clean energy facilities, and that this money could be recaptured through PACE financing. He was able to loan them $7 million, millions more than they had originally asked for. Now, Shrub Oak’s doors are finally — and safely — open, with a years-long waiting list.
It’s the Future
This success story epitomizes a new solution in New York, one Ahlawat seeks to parlay into troubled schools and locations when their money gets tight. He speculates that because of the “acute political realm we are in post-election,” the administration-elect will only further incentivize PACE financing and other clean energy projects. Government subsidies will bolster PACE, which is entirely privately funded, thus wholeheartedly motivating the clean energy initiative. In particular, Ahlawat hopes to utilize PACE financing in cities. “It’s no secret that big cities give off the most pollution, and I would love to see the Manhattan skyline clear of fog and smoke. Clean energy is the only way to get there. It’s the future.” And once more, Corey Ahlawat is on the lookout for “what’s next.” For him, that means expanding the green — energy and loaned dollar bills—up and down the East Coast. centurionfin.com