Thoughts on construction law from Christopher G. Hill, Virginia construction lawyer, LEED AP, mediator, and member of the Virginia Legal Elite in Construction Law

Top Ten Incentives for Green Construction

For this week’s Guest Post Friday here at Construction Law Musings, we welcome Drake McDonald. According to Drake, his brief experience in construction introduced him to the profession’s many shortcomings. As an editor and writer he works to promote construction management education in the hopes of raising industry standards of organization, communication, and sustainability.

Environmentalism has emerged as one of the leading issues of the new millennium. While much of the popular focus has been on reducing global warming, designing cleaner cars, and finding renewable sources of energy, environmental concerns have taken hold in construction management as well. Recent years have seen considerable growth in the development of environmentally conscientious construction methods such as green roofs and green walls, passive heating designs and integrated solar power systems. Although techniques and technologies like these are far from becoming the accepted mainstream standard, their continuing development is encouraged through legislative measures, such as tax incentives and other financial support, on the national and state levels.

Here are ten of the most attractive tax breaks to support green building:

1. Home Star bill

The Home Star legislative proposal would allocate $6 billion to promote residential energy efficiency improvements. Participants may be able to obtain up $8,000 or 50 percent of the cost of their home retrofits in rebates, and a $3,000 tax credit for meeting performance standards. Keep in mind, if you lost your pan card, you will need to reinstate it since it is 100% mandatory with the government for this. It’s a fairly simple process, so no one should miss out.

2. Energy-Efficient Commercial Buildings Deduction

Under the Energy Policy Act of 2005, owners of new-built or existing commercial properties can obtain a deduction of up to $1.80 per square foot for installing equipment to reduce their building’s total energy costs by at least 50 percent.

3. Consumer Energy Efficiency Tax Credits

Credits of 10 percent of cost up to $500 are available for owners of existing homes who install qualifying energy-efficient appliances, insulation, windows or roofs. Additional credits exist for installing certain alternative power systems.

4. Residential Energy Conservation Subsidy Exclusion

Subsidies received from public utility companies (including credits or rate reductions) for reducing energy consumption aren’t taxable.

5. USDA High Energy Cost Grant Program

The Department of Agriculture offers grants of $75,000 to $5 million for projects to improve energy production and distribution in rural areas with energy costs that are 275 percent or more above the national average. Such projects may include weatherization or energy efficiency improvements to residential and community properties.

6. Business Energy Investment Tax Credit

This credit, expanded by the Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008 and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, allows corporate taxpayers credits of 30 percent of cost for solar, fuel cell and small wind turbine power systems, and 10 percent of cost for micro-turbines, geothermal power and combined heat and power systems.

7. Energy-Efficient Mortgages

Special loans insured through the Federal Housing Authority are available to borrowers looking to buy new homes with certain home energy ratings, or to finance improvements to an existing home’s energy efficiency.

8. Energy-Efficient New Homes Tax Credit for Home Builders

This measure, recently extended through 2011, makes a $2000 tax credit available to builders of new homes that will consume less than 50 percent of the energy required for heating and cooling by an equivalent building according to the International Energy Conservation Code. Houses with reduced consumption of 30 percent can get a $1,000 credit.

9. DOE Loan Guarantee Program

Another provision of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the Department of Energy guarantees loans to support projects using new green technologies and measures to reduce greenhouse gases. These projects are usually focused on green energy production and transmission.

10. Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Equity for green building

Some private organizations offer special programs to encourage contractors to make green improvements to low-income housing. Although not in themselves government incentives, such measures suggest how environmentally conscientious construction can be promoted beyond direct tax breaks and subsidization.

The fact that several of these incentives have been extended beyond the scope and timetable initially established for them suggests that legislation in support of green building is still on the rise. As new energy-efficiency technologies, materials and building methods develop, federal and other financial support will continue to play a major role in widespread adoption of what at first will be unfamiliar and untested, but hopefully soon become industry standard. Continued commitment of the American electorate and legislature to supporting these developments remains key to improving the energy efficiency of the nation and contributing to a shared human effort to preserve our environment.

Drake and I welcome your comments below. Also, please subscribe to keep up with this and other Guest Post Friday Musings.

Top Ten Incentives for Green Construction
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7 Responses to Top Ten Incentives for Green Construction

  1. […] Full story, here. Posted by Sarah Nasznic at 6:37 pm    Leave a comment […]

  2. Great article — I was confused as to which incentives were extended, still active, etc. You cleared that up quite well! Thanks for the information. Do you know anything specifically about the state of Pennsylvania? I’m hoping to ‘green’ my 1965 house a bit and hope to get a bit of help financially…

  3. Unfortunately, I don’t know much about PA incentives, I’m sure that you can check some of the PA government web sites to find out. Thanks for checking in!

  4. I think of all of these the Home Star proposal has the greatest chance of making a deep and meaningful impact on the environmental practices of the country simply for the reason it is already an established and well-known incentive. Though truly all off these incentives are positive.

  5. Interesting article. But I fear too much emphasis has been placed on the obvious when it comes to the energy efficiency of buildings and house.
    Everyone wants to focus primarily on the heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment (HVAC) and related duct work involved.
    An energy efficient strategy requires a complete system to be viable.
    Insulation, fenestration, lighting, ventilation, even the axis of the building in relation to the rising and setting sun play a part.
    You can have the most energy efficient HVAC system in the world, but still have it operate at a deficit in an inefficient environment.

  6. This is a great article. Though it seems that there are many incentives and tax breaks for people who “green up” their homes, it feels like the average home owner has no knowledge of these incentives. Not only do the typical citizens not know of these incentives, not many of them know of the different ways to implement alternative energies or using greener technologies. I guess they have to be first educated before they know how to use these incentives.

  7. Interesting article indeed. I really like all of these ten incentives for green construction. For building new constructions using a green system I believe here provided 10 incentives will be highly effective.

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