Congress passes funding, tax incentives for green building community
Congress has passed a sprawling spending bill and tax extenders package that covers funding for all federal agencies and includes short- and longer-term extensions for a number of popular incentives for businesses and consumers, according to a report by the U.S. Green Building Council.
Based on an initial review of the package, it is generally considered a win for those in green building.
The omnibus would provide $11 billion for programs under the Department of Energy, a $794 million increase above 2015. Specifically, the Buildings Technologies Office received a $28 million increase for next year. The bill also funds programs like the Clean Energy Manufacturing Innovation Institutes at $70 million and provides $10 million for a competitive funding opportunity to achieve deeper energy efficiency improvements in small and medium-sized buildings.
Funding levels at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) were not as successful, at $8.1 billion, which is a $100 million reduction from last year’s funding. Although funding for agencies like EPA isn’t high, the bill does not contain many of the problematic policy riders that emerged through the appropriations process this year.
In its report on passage of the bill, the USGBC commended Congress for removing policies that would have limited opportunities to pursue greater energy and water savings.
A number of real estate and energy incentives also were included for a two-year extension, one year retrospective for 2015 and one year prospective for 2016. This includes:
- The 45(L) New and Efficient Homes Credit
- The 179(D) Energy Efficient Commercial Building Tax Deduction, with a standards update for 2016
- Parity for employer-provided mass transit and parking benefits
The tax package also includes a five-year extension of tax incentives for wind and solar energy producers. The deal extends the 30 percent solar investment tax credit and a credit for solar-powered, energy-efficient properties for three years before winding it down for two years. Also, the deal extends the wind protection tax credit for two years before a three-year phase-out.
The deal allows projects to claim the incentives once construction has been initiated, as opposed to after the project is completed. The Joint Committee of Taxation estimates these changes in total are expected to infuse more than $23 billion into the renewable energy market over the next decade.
Topics: Architectural Firms, Associations / Organizations, Building Owners and Managers, Construction Firms, Engineering Firms, Great Commercial Buildings, Incentives - Rebates / Tax Credits / Other, Real Estate, Sustainable Communities, Urban Planning and Design, USGBC
Companies: U.S. Green Building Council