Clark's Remarks

In Support of S. 3591

Editor’s note: This week, Fastrack introduces “Clark’s Remarks,” an exclusive blog written by Lawrence (Larry) Clark, CEA, GGP, LEED AP O+M, principal of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Sustainable Performance Solutions LLC, provider of energy audits, general energy-efficiency and sustainability consulting services, and metering and submetering solutions. Clark has more than a dozen published articles on HVAC- and energy-related topics to his credit and frequently lectures on central-energy-plant optimization, metering/submetering, and advanced ventilation. He is a member of HPAC Engineering’s Editorial Advisory Board.


How many of you are aware of the commercial-building energy-efficiency tax deductions authorized by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct 2005)? Until my firm started performing the required energy modeling, I had no idea of how few qualified projects actually are taking advantage of them. While they are becoming better known, these provisions—unless once again extended—are scheduled to expire at the end of the year.

Section 179D of the Internal Revenue Code was enacted as part of EPAct 2005 to encourage energy efficiency in private-sector commercial and government-owned buildings (for whatever reason, private non-profit owners are not included). It provides tax deductions of up to $1.80 per square foot for whole-building performance, and there are partial deductions for improvements in the areas of lighting, HVAC, and building envelope. In the case of government buildings, the benefit can be allocated to the primary designer on a project.

EPAct 2005’s replacement, the Commercial Building Modernization Act, would have extended the deductions for another three years, increased the maximum deduction to $3 per square foot—or, in the case of a building 10 or more years old, $4 per square foot—and allowed private non-profits and real-estate investment trusts to participate. It was introduced by a bipartisan group of senators on Sept. 20, 2012, as S. 3591, but died when it was referred to the Senate Finance Committee. In spite of its almost immediate endorsement by such diverse groups as the National Association of Realtors, the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors' National Association, the Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association, and the National Electrical Contractors Association, it has not been re-introduced. According to an analysis by the Natural Resources Defense Council, The Real Estate Roundtable, and the U.S. Green Building Council (speaking of diverse groups!), more than 77,000 jobs would be created if S. 3591 were passed.

Regardless of your personal opinion on climate change, I don’t think any of us believes in wasting energy or money. So here’s a chance to save money, reduce energy consumption and our dependence on foreign oil, improve our buildings, and help our industry and our planet (yes, I do accept the science of climate change). I urge you to reach out to your Senate and Congressional delegations and encourage them to support this important legislation.

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