Show me the money! Sustainability Building Credits

Whenever I talk to a potential new client about sustainable building.  One of the first questions they ask me is – What money can I get for “going green”?  I believe, and have tried to convince others, that building green without any incentives is a sound financial investment.  In the long run sustainable building will pay for itself.  The utility bills for the space will be lower.  The space will also command a higher rent or sales price because of the higher quality of the construction, improved indoor environmental air quality, and the increased marketability of the building.  I also believe that as green building becomes the standard, buildings that are not “green” will be further penalized by being viewed as old and out of date.

What every client wants to here is, you’ll pay $100,000 but get $85,000 back through these tax and equipment credits.  For that reason I have listed below the credits that I have used for residential and commercial buildings.  Some of this is New York centric, but I would love to hear about other state’s incentives.  Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency is a great resource for state credits.  I would also like to see a comparison of state incentives to find which state provides the most credits.

Federal Government

For residential buildings, the federal government offers a credit to your taxes for 30% of the total spent on the upgrades.  This is a credit, not a refund, so you will owe the government less money, but they will not write you a check for any remaining credits.  It is pretty easy to do, just fill out form 5695, or even easier, get your accountant to do it!

New York State Government

Solar Panel Installation Credit – 25% of expenditures on solar voltaic or solar thermal panels up to $5,000 can be used as credit on personal tax returns.  For fuel cells a 20% credit is available, with a $1,500 maximum.

For property owners in cities with a million or more people in New York a credit of 8.75% of eligible expenditures on solar voltaic panels can be applied to property taxes for 4 years up to a maximum of $62,500/year.  This credit will be reduced to 5% at the end of 2010.


New York State Energy Research and Development Authority has number of credits for equipment that reduces energy usage.  NYSERDA is funded by a surcharge on every Con Edison bill.  This surcharge supplies a fund that NYSERDA uses to help fund equipment and properties that are more energy-efficient.  They have an informative website which lists all the credits and the forms you would need to fill out to apply for the credits.  It requires a fair amount of work, but can also provide a fair amount of money.

New York City

New York City residents who install a green roof are eligible for $4.50/sqft credit.

There are new credits and grants coming out every day it seems so please let me know if I missed anything.  There are also a number of new incentives being discussed which I hope to do a future post on.

This entry was posted in Efficiency and Conservation, Financial Analysis and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s