A Note from Our General Manager:
The Greening Of America's Campuses
The Paper Chase
Tax Credit Opportunities for Solar and Energy Efficiency
Bio-diesel car rental opens in world's car capital
From the Manager
We now have a blog that can be found at:
We welcome you to say whatever you wish about my musings on the world or your musings on the world or the website in general. Please be honest either pro or con.
I do not wish to offend our great customers and readers since we badly need you. As I lead my life and see how my fellow Americans lead their lives, it strikes me that a large part of this demand created run up in oil and gas pricing is really our own fault. We are the folk who use the most oil and gas in the entire world and that is largely tied into the approach that we feel each of our lives is most important and we can use natural resources in any amount we wish as long as we pay for them.
I am not a statistician so let me know if this example is flawed. Are all non renewable natural resources like oil, copper etc, not akin to a large glass of water that cannot be refilled, whereby we are all drinking from the same glass with our own straws. Currently those who want to draw more from the glass may do so as long as they pay for what they withdraw. But if the resources are so crucial to our existence should there not be consideration (or more concretely penalty) for those who withdraw profligately. We must change our way of doing business and sooner is
better than later I feel.
So here are my 10 ways to better use your oil and gas allotment yearly:
- Keep your car(s) serviced ie correct amount of air in tires, oil change, coolant change, spark plug/fuel injector checks, exhaust checks often--at least quarterly.
- Read the vehicle owner's manual regards the "Essentials of Good Fuel Economy". This will offer tips on how to drive to come closest to the projected mpg the auto manufacturer estimates.
- If you have 2 vehicles and need a large vehicle to transport kids or items for your business, why not get a smaller 4 cylinder vehicle for your trips requiring less vehicle space as your 2nd car.
- Consider walking or biking if your trip is less than 2 miles and the weather appears favorable for the trip. You will save gas and help your body.
- For trips over 2 miles in towns where bus and train service are ubiquitous, please take this alternate form of transport when you can.
- Carpooling is certainly an option for those working in one locale together for a large part of the day or parents taking kids to the same school.
- Spread the word. Say you are a more conserving type of person but your best friend or family member is not. You may just ask them if they have ever thought of how their apparent over use of oil and gas products may be ultimately reducing the amount of available product for us all.
- Contact your legislative representatives, both local and national, on occasion and let them know that laws favoring alternate means of transport are what we all need.
- Drive in the correct gear. Incorrect gear shifting can lead to as much as 20% increase in fuel consumption. Also idling is a gas guzzler—many times it is best to turn the car off if idling for more than a few minutes. If not in the middle of winter, warming a car up is a waste of fuel.
- Strongly consider a hybrid vehicle as a secondary(or primary) vehicle. Go test drive a hybrid and see what you think. There is currently some tax relief for these models. They are also available in the pre-owned car market.
Watching CSPAN recently, I was overjoyed to see a tremendous presentation by US Representative Roscoe Bartlett on how peak oil production has been reached and how alternatives need to be found. Here is the link to the text and video of this presentation.
It was satisfying to see for many reasons including:
- NO POLITICS--he did not mention once one party or the other
- HIS SCIENCE seemed to ring true as he quoted from 2 different sources and his presentation was beautifully done
- HE IS NOT A YOUNG MAN--frankly I think of many of the more mature representatives having interest only in keeping their machine going rather than broaching new subjects but he showed a willingness to help future generations how to get out of the oil trap.
Our articles this time include a discussion of how colleges and universities are attempting to make better use of their resources, The Greening of America's Campuses
Another article is from E Magazine and discussed the state of paper usage in the USA and the world--We all thought that the computer age would not require as much paper??
We are reprinting the discussion of the current tax incentives for alternate energy use, Tax Credit Opportunities For Solar And Energy Efficiency, since it has gotten good interest.
And an article on rental car companies considering alternative transport options.
We will say that we may or may not agree with all the views and expressions of the writers of these articles but we find the discussion useful.
Happy Early Summer '06 from Florida and thanks for reading,
The Greening Of America's Campuses
New York Times
Sunday January 8, 2005
By Timothy Egan
THE largest university in Oregon is camouflaged, its many parts spread among the tight urban canyons of downtown Portland. But one building at Portland State University stands out. It has a roof of grass, plants and gravel, like a slice of the high desert on the wet side of Oregon. It is 10 stories high, and inside, all the mechanical organs work with so little waste - pumping water, air and electricity to the 400 residents of the dormitory and, on lower floors, to classrooms - that it would impress even the thrifty New Englanders who founded Portland.
If it is true, as Winston Churchill said, that "we shape our dwellings, and afterwards our dwellings shape us," then Portland State's new residence hall, the Broadway, may be more than environmentally virtuous. Open barely a year, it is attracting students who say they want their campus home to be a living laboratory, even if that means low-flow showers are part of a 24-hour classroom. "This building is really cool, and everybody likes being a part of it," says Micaiah Fifer, a junior who lives in the Broadway. "I appreciate the fact that this school is trying to be environmentally friendly. It's a reason to like the school."
The low water pressure, he admits, "gets to be a little annoying." Still, students are lining up to take on such challenges. More than a hundred students at the University of South Carolina, Columbia, were on the waiting list last fall for what is being promoted as the world's largest green dorm. Students had to write an essay stating why they wanted to live in the building, which opened in fall 2004.
Colleges have long marketed their campus amenities, their rosters of scholars, their selectivity and study-abroad programs. To that list, add one more thing: their green credentials.
From Berea College in Kentucky, where students designed a house that produces its own electricity, to Middlebury in Vermont, where local forests supply wood for construction, the greening of higher education is everywhere, showing signs of outlasting earlier, faddish fits and starts. Nationwide, more than 110 colleges have built or are building structures certified by the United States Green Building Council, a non profit group that promotes construction and designs that meet high standards of energy efficiency.
But it's one thing to put up a trophy of recycled glass and brick that relies on the sun, the wind or other renewable resources for power. It's another to build a curriculum - and to get students to look at the world differently - with green buildings as a centerpiece. In Pittsburgh, students at Carnegie Mellon study the weave of grass, dirt and bugs atop its new "living roof" at Hamerschlag Hall. In class projects they study how the building design can reduce storm water drainage and improve water quality. Yavapai College in Arizona and Harvey Mudd College in California have built classes around new ways to use the earth's resources, with campus designs as the prime exhibits.
The students, professors and designers behind this movement say they are part of a broad push for sustainability, which has become a buzzword for new schools of thought in architecture, interior design, urban planning, culinary arts and other fields. At its simplest, sustainability means taking as little as possible from resources that cannot be renewed. A movement without real leaders, it seems to have the greatest resonance on college campuses, always a home for new thinking. Student groups and sessions dedicated to sustainability are flourishing. While some produce little but conversational - and political - gas, others are preaching practical solutions. At Drury University in Missouri, a campus conference on using natural resources ended with a posting of "10 simple ways to support sustainable living in the Ozarks." Among the suggestions: shop at local food producers.
At last year's annual conference of the Society for College and University Planning, green buildings and ideas on how to spread eco-friendly practices dominated many discussions. With studies showing that students perform better in buildings with better (natural) light and cleaner circulating air, universities are taking their campuses out of the dark ages.
"What university leaders are telling us is that they now see this as an opportunity for recruitment," says Rick Fedrizzi, president of the green building council. "It signals to the potential student that this is an organization that gets it."
Because living lighter can save money, administrators say, they can - as the old line about prosperous missionaries has it - do well while trying to do good. With energy prices at record highs, and many economists predicting the end of the oil age within a generation's time, the college sustainability movement could play a big role outside the academic bubble. For example, by using lots of windows, mirrors and a big bank of photovoltaic cells, which convert sunlight to electricity, the University of South Carolina has reduced heating costs in its new residence hall by 20 percent and electricity costs by 40 percent, compared with a similarly sized dorm. The system is the largest on the East Coast, university officials say, and shows that even a large apartment building can use a clean, renewable source of energy at relatively low cost.
"The sustainability movement is no longer a niche thing at most colleges," says Peggy F. Barlett, an anthropology professor at Emory University in Atlanta, who edited, with Geoffrey W. Chase, a book of essays on the subject. "There's going to be a real cultural transformation in the coming years in this area."
Ms. Barlett was behind the Piedmont Project, an effort to bring green sensibility to all parts of Emory. It started slowly, six years ago, but has lately taken off because of high energy costs and the desire of students and teachers to turn their ideas into practicality. Atlanta's environmental problems - stagnant air and poor water quality, sprawl, horrendous traffic jams - also prompted many on campus to take another look at their relationship with the natural world, she says. The Piedmont Project involves little things (a literary class on eco-criticism, a student project on maintaining golf courses using minimal amounts of water and chemicals) and big things (two new green-certified buildings that are under construction).
The project was inspired by the pioneering Northern Arizona University, in the high pine-forested reach of Flagstaff. With its proximity to some of the world's most stunning scenery, Flagstaff, which attracts lovers of outdoor sports, has consistently been rated among the nation's most livable medium-size cities. The university has tried to match the setting. "Kids who spend a lot of their time in national parks and outside are going to want to live in a campus that reflects their values," says Gary Paul Nabhan, director of the university's Center for Sustainable Environments. "A huge portion of our student body is motivated to be engaged in environmental issues."
Conferences, classrooms and buildings try to reflect this ethic. Administrators have declared that every new building must meet some degree of green construction and design standards, meaning that they use a high percentage of recycled building materials and incorporate low-energy-using lighting and electrical systems. Solar panels are abundant, making use of the sun at Flagstaff's altitude of 7,000 feet.
Even the janitors and land maintenance crews have been brought aboard. "Rather than a bunch of academics and student activists trying to ram some ideas down people's throats," says Dr. Nabhan, who is also a professor of environmental science, "we let the people who work on campus come up with ideas about how to use less, and we listen to them."
IT was not so long ago when what fell from the sky in Pittsburgh caused people to rush indoors or cough. Soot and ash from the mills that gave the city its nickname, Steeltown, U.S.A., could block the sun and discolor clothes. But in the nearly two decades since the mills were shuttered, Pittsburgh has remade itself, with one of the city's best-known universities, Carnegie Mellon, in the forefront.
The living roof of Hamerschlag Hall sprouted four years ago from a "why not?" idea of three students who were members of the campus Sustainable Earth Club. With an undergraduate research grant, the students studied other green roofs and drew up a general plan; students of architecture and engineering in an advanced sculpture studio class designed it last spring.
The roof, which cost $172,000, is a showpiece, with its grasses, perennials and a log drilled with holes to encourage insects to settle in. Instruments were installed to measure water runoff, water quality, and heat loss and retention in the building, with monitors installed on a traditional roof nearby so data could be compared.
Elsewhere on campus, the energy-saving gadgets and systems of New House - the first green dormitory to open in the country, according to Carnegie Mellon officials - have also become teaching tools. Now in its third year, the five-story, 260-bed residence uses 30 percent less energy than a typical building of the same size, and it came in under budget. A kiosk shows the daily energy use and compares it with previous days, making students aware of their daily impact on the resources needed to house them. Carpets are made of recycled fiber and the doors were certified by sustainable forestry groups. Campus environmental groups use New House as a home. "This is very much a living laboratory," says Tim Michael, director of housing and dining services at Carnegie Mellon. "The building is constantly being studied by students, architects and engineers." He says Carnegie Mellon is moving toward applying the same stringent green-building standards to all its major new construction.
Beyond the well-insulated walls of New House, Carnegie Mellon has been trying to integrate sustainable theory in many aspects of campus life and curriculum. Teachers at the new Center for Sustainable Engineering, in collaboration with like-minded colleagues at the University of Texas and Arizona State University, want to revolutionize teaching at the nation's 1,500 engineering programs. Supported by a $1.7 million grant from the National Science Foundation, the center holds workshops and develops educational materials meant to get students to think about energy
efficiency and recycled material.
"The whole purpose of this is to take some of the ideas of sustainability out of the fringes and put them into the mainstream," says Cliff Davidson, a professor in civil and environmental engineering and a co-founder of the center.
It helps to have a shiny new example of what all the fuss is about. That is the case with the University of South Carolina's new residence hall, West Quad, which has been certified by the environment-friendly building council. About 500 students live in the complex of three four-story buildings, which includes a learning center where classes on the environment are taught. There is a perception that a green dorm is going to force a monastic life on students, but West Quad residents insist they are not uncomfortable. No cold showers or dimly lighted study halls, they say.
"The thing I notice most is the air quality," says Lindsey Cooper, a graduate student who lives at West Quad. "They are constantly filtering in new air. And the lighting is so reliant on natural lights that I don't even feel like I use electric lights very much."
West Quad has become the iPod of buildings. "It's clearly the most popular hall on campus," says Gene Luna, a university vice president. Plans are under way to build a green fraternity house.
As at Carnegie Mellon, the building is a learning opportunity. Biology majors have experimented with different plants, trying to create an attractive landscape that uses a minimal amount of water. Engineering students monitor the energy output provided by simple daylight to heat all those hot showers.
"This building has just exceeded our expectations in every way," Dr. Luna says. "You can't traverse across the West Quad complex without learning something."
The Paper Chase
By Jim Motavalli
While many futurists predicted that we'd be enjoying the paperless office around this time, Americans are still at the epicenter of a paper blizzard. Werer you under the impression that the electronic age would free us from all that? According to The Myth of the Paperless Office, a company's use of e-mail causes an average 40 percent increase in paper consumption. The demand for ream after ream of white paper is putting a huge strain not only on America's forests, but the world's. And it's forcing the environmental movement to consider the alternatives.
The U.S. currently gobbles up some 200 million tons of wood products annually, with consumption increasing by four percent every year. The pulp and paper industry is the biggest culprit. U.S. paper producers alone consume one billion trees-or 12,430 square miles of forests-every year, while producing 735 pounds of paper for every American.
The U.S. has less than five percent of the world's population, but consumes 30 percent of the world's paper. Only five percent of America's virgin forests remain, while 70 percent of the fiber consumed by the pulp and paper industry continues to be generated from virgin wood. While logging controversies most often center around the Pacific Northwest, most of the wood pulp used for paper in the U.S. actually comes from southern forests, currently home to some of the greatest biodiversity in the continental U.S. (see sidebar).
Worldwide, global consumption of wood products has risen 64 percent since 1961. The industry expects that demand will double by 2050, keeping pace with population growth. Recycling has helped, but has not yet made an appreciable difference. "Recycling has yet to dent the world's appetite for virgin-fiber pulp," says the Worldwatch Institute.
In Indonesia, the pulp and paper industry is destroying rainforest so quickly that it will run out of wood by 2007, according to a report by Friends of the Earth. An area the size of Belgium is wiped out annually. Only 10 percent of the trees cut down for paper in Indonesia are farmed, although the industry had supposedly committed to replanting its clear-cuts with fast-growing acacia trees.
Globally, pulp for paper and other uses is taking an increasing share of all wood production, from 40 percent in 1998 to nearly 60 percent over the next 50 years. In the same time span, easily accessible and inexpensive sources of wood are disappearing. Because of the rapid consumption of virgin forests in places as far apart as Canada and Southeast Asia, forest restoration has not been able to keep pace with the demand for wood products.
Toxic Pollution and Waste
Loss of forests isn't the only issue. Deforestation has released an estimated 120 billion tons of carbon dioxide (CO2), the major global warming gas, into the atmosphere. The pulp and paper industry is the third-largest industrial polluter in both Canada and the U.S., releasing more than 220 million pounds of toxic pollution into the air, ground and water each year.
Much of that pollution is the byproduct of the three million tons of chlorine used annually to bleach wood pulp white. Chlorine bleaching is a major source of the potent carcinogen dioxin, which is routinely discharged into rivers and streams with wastewater. As a result, dioxin is now ubiquitous in our environment, found throughout the world in air, water, soil and food. Every woman alive today carries some trace of dioxin in her breast milk. Dioxin is considered one of the most toxic substances ever produced, and has been known to cause cancer, liver failure, miscarriage, birth defects and genetic damage in laboratory animals.
The U.S. paper industry has been aware of the dioxin problem since at least 1985, but has been very slow to act on alternatives (see sidebar). In Europe, chlorine bleaching is being phased out. That has only been proposed in the U.S., despite the fact that the American Public Health Association strongly supports a phase-out. In Sweden, pulp mills have to meet stringent standards, and were required to reduce chlorine content by 90 percent as early as 1993. When they have to, American companies such as Proctor and Gamble can go virtually chlorine-free: The Pampers exported to Sweden, for example, are made without a chlorine-bleaching process, unlike those wrapping U.S. babies.
Paper is also the dominant material in solid waste. And in the United States, paper-producing companies are the third-largest energy consumer, with a pace that keeps quickening.
It's not surprising that, given all these environmental negatives, the paper industry would wrap itself in a green mantle. International Paper, for instance, issued a Sustainability Report in 2002 that cites its role as "among the largest owners of sustainably managed private forestland in the world." Its raw material is trees, the report says, "the world's greatest renewable resource." It participates in forest certification programs and voluntary partnerships and strictly adheres to environmental regulations. And according to the American Forest and Paper Association, U.S. papermakers recycle enough paper every day to fill a 15-mile-long train of boxcars. Since 1990, the recovered paper would fill 200 football stadiums to a height of 100 feet.
While some of this is undoubtedly greenwashing, Michael Klein, a spokesperson for the American Forest and Paper Association, asserts that the industry is currently using all the recycled paper it can get. "I have a problem with activists who say we have to demand more recycled content," Klein says. "Instead, they should demand that people recycle more. One hundred percent of the paper and boxed fiberboard people put on the curb is used." Paper activists point out, however, that a significant amount of U.S.-generated recyclable paper is actually exported. Nearly a quarter of the recovered paper in the U.S. is shipped to Mexico, Canada, Asia and Europe rather than being recycled here, reports Conservatree.
Tree-Free Paper: Great Expectations
There is vast potential for a "green" paper industry, including recycled and natural fibers, that could not only spare trees but also produce paper with minimal environmental impact overall, but it needs an infusion of both public interest and research funding. It is presently, at best, a $20 million sales niche in a $230 billion U.S. industry, asserts the San Francisco-based Fiber Futures, which lobbies for expanded use of agricultural residues and other tree-free materials for paper. A plan by the Natural Resources Defense Council to open a paper recycling plant in the Bronx, New York ended tragically because of labor opposition and last-minute political maneuvering, which thwarted financing. Many small and medium-sized paper mills that handled tree-free papers have closed because of industry consolidation and the economic downturn, sending many paper manufacturers overseas for sources of pulp.
But despite these market setbacks, research continues to offer strong evidence that non-wood fibers can be used for large-scale paper production in North America. And tiny demonstration projects have been very successful, while full-scale mills are moving forward overseas. According to Fiber Futures, a dedicated wheat straw pulp mill is being built in Turkmenistan.
Progress is arriving incrementally. In Canada, the so-called Markets Initiative, with support from several major nonprofit groups and linked to the U.S.-based Green Press Initiative, has persuaded 67 Canadian book publishers to buy their paper from forest-friendly sources. The Harry Potter books printed in Canada are among the converts.
Meanwhile, paper activists are mobilizing. In late 2002, 75 members of more than 50 environmental groups from around the world gathered together to promote what they called "an environmentally and socially sustainable paper production system." The Environmental Paper Summit promotes collaborations on the use of environmentally friendly papers, and is planning outreach to progressive paper purchasers (including social justice groups and labor unions), producers and suppliers-all in an effort to change paper consumption habits.
The Environmental Paper Summit's steering committee included Conservatree, the Center for a New American Dream, Co-op America, Dogwood Alliance, Environmental Defense, Forest Ethics, the Green Press Initiative, Markets Initiative, Natural Resources Defense Council and the Recycled Products Purchasing Cooperative. The process resulted in a Common Vision document that has already been signed by more than 80 nonprofit groups and corporations.
"We're trying to stimulate demand for recycled paper," says Susan Kinsella, executive director of Conservatree. "Environmental groups needed to express a common mission so that it would be clear the market will be there. We realized we're all in it together, and the process created tremendous camaraderie." A new push is desperately needed, because consumers have become complacent, and big potential purchasers have become worried about steady sources of recycled paper. Recycled fiber content slid from a high of 10 percent in the early 1990s to a current rate of less than five percent.
The Common Vision endorses kenaf and hemp production "if life-cycle analysis and other comprehensive and credible analyses indicate that they are environmentally and socially preferable to other sources of virgin fiber." Kinsella says recycled paper "needs to be the bottom line," but she also sees a need to increase non-wood production.
This view is common in the environmental community. Evan Paul, a Forest Ethics paper campaigner, says, "While it's better to be growing kenaf instead of logging, we want to really look at the whole life cycle of natural fibers. We're not sure of the full impact when it includes clearing land and using pesticides." Paul is, however, bullish on the use of existing agricultural waste in papermaking, including corn and rice husks. "But," he adds, "There hasn't been a lot of development in that field, either."
One such tree-free waste paper is made from 100 percent bagasse fiber, left over from sugar cane production. According to Reprograph's Erik Sanudo, the new Propal paper line was launched in 2003 and hopes to find uses in stores and offices for notepads and cash register rolls. Kimberly-Clark also uses bagasse in paper towels and tissues.
The Common Vision also calls for "responsible fiber sourcing" that cuts down on virgin wood fiber use, ends the use of wood products from endangered forests, and asks for a moratorium on turning natural ecosystems into monocrop wood plantations (see sidebar).
All of this activity strikes many in the paper industry as beside the point. "We think finding a replacement for wood fiber is a problem that does not need to be solved," John Mechem of the Washington-based American Forest and Paper Association told Well Journal. "Our group is not necessarily opposed to kenaf. In fact, some of our members have tried-and may still be trying-to make it work."
Tax Credit Opportunities for Solar and Energy Efficiency
reprinted from Florida Solar Energy Center website:
The Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct 2005) is the first effort of the United States government to address U.S. energy policy since the Energy Policy Act of 1992. Among many other things, the 1724 page law provides new tax incentives for a number of solar and energy efficiency measures.
Among them are:
- Tax credits for residential solar photovoltaic and hot water heating systems
- Tax deductions for highly efficient commercial buildings
- Tax credits for highly-efficient new homes
- Tax credits for improvements to existing homes including high-efficiency air conditioners and equipment
- Tax credits for residential fuel cell systems
- Tax credits for fuel cell and microturbines used in a business.
The complete conference bill for the Energy Policy Act may be downloaded at www.fsec.ucf.edu. The solar and energy efficiency provisions are found in Title XIII, Subtitle C, beginning on page 1332 through page 1390 of the act.
An Important Distinction
There is an important difference between a tax deduction and a tax credit.
A tax deduction is subtracted from income before total tax liability is computed. On the other hand, a tax credit is subtracted directly from the total tax liability. This means that a deduction and a credit have very different values, with a credit being 3 or more times more advantageous to the taxpayer than a deduction. For example, a tax credit of $1,000 for someone in the 28% tax bracket is equivalent to a tax deduction of $3,571.
In many cases, multiple tax incentives may be claimed. In the case of a new home for example, the builder may claim credit for the high efficiency home and the homeowner may claim tax credits for solar hot water and photovoltaic and fuel cell systems. Other financial incentives, such as utility or SunBuilt rebates, further reduce the cost of building or owning a solar and energy efficient home.
Solar Photovoltaic and Hot Water Systems
This provision offers tax credits to individuals for residential solar energy systems.
- For solar hot water systems, the allowable tax credit is 30% of the qualified solar system expenditures up to a maximum tax credit limitation of $2,000.
- For solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, the allowable tax credit is 30% of the qualified PV system expenditures up to a maximum tax credit limitation of $2,000.
To be eligible for the solar hot water system tax credit, the system must be certified by the Solar Rating and Certification Corporation (SRCC) or the Florida Solar Energy Center (in the case of systems manufactured or sold in Florida) and produce 50% or more of the hot water needed by the residence. There is no qualification provided for PV systems (except in Florida, where systems must be rated and ceritified by the Florida Solar Energy Center). Individuals may claim tax credits for either or both types of solar systems.
The incentives apply to equipment placed in service during 2006-2007.
In addition, the provisions of the bill substantially increases the business investment tax credit from 10% to 30%. This tax credit is available to businesses that purchase solar thermal and PV systems during calendar years 2006 and 2007. In Florida, such systems would be subject to the requirement that solar systems manufactured or sold in the state be certified by the Florida Solar Energy Center. This business investment tax credit for solar equipment does not have a maximum credit limit.
Additional information on solar systems that my qualify for these tax credits may be found at the following Web sites:
Solar hot water systems: www.fsec.ucf.edu/solar/
Photovoltaic (PV) systems: www.fsec.ucf.edu/pvt/
This provision offers business taxpayers a deduction of $1.80 per square foot for commercial buildings that achieve a 50% reduction in annual energy cost to the user, compared to a base building defined by the industry standard ASHRAE/IESNA 90.1-2001. Energy costs refer only to heating, cooling, lighting and water heating, since only these uses are within the scope of the ASHRAE standard and within the control of the building designer.
Each of the three energy-using systems of the building - the envelope, the heating, cooling and water heating system, and lighting system – is eligible for one third of the incentive if it meets its share of the whole-building savings goal. Explicit interim compliance procedures are provided for lighting.
Eligible buildings include commercial buildings such as: offices, retail buildings, warehouses, etc., rental housing of four stories or more, and publicly-owned buildings. For publicly-owned buildings, there is an interesting provision allowing the credit to pass through to the "person primarily responsible for designing the building."
New construction in an existing building is also eligible for the tax deduction, with one third of the deduction amount for new construction that affects the new energy-using system (such as lighting or heating, cooling and water heating).
Compliance is determined by third party inspectors who review the plans and the actual in-place construction.
Energy savings are determined by software that must be certified by the Department of Energy as meeting criteria of consistency and accuracy, following the successful experience of California's performance-based energy code enforcement.
The incentives apply to buildings or systems placed in service during 2006-2007, although extenders increasing the eligibility through 2009 or 2010 are a distinct possibility. (see colloquia)
This provision offers homebuilders a tax credit of $2,000 for homes that reduce energy use for heating and cooling only (not hot water) by 50% compared to the national model code - the 2004 IECC Supplement (assuming an SEER-13 air conditioner). Producers of manufactured homes can also choose to qualify for a tax credit of $1,000 for homes that save 30%. This $1,000 credif for reaching 30% savings is not available for site built homes, which must reach the 50% savings tier to qualify for the $2,000 credit.
Eligible homes must demonstrate savings using software that has been approved by DOE and builders must demonstrate compliance by the use of third-party inspectors certified according to DOE rules. While no interim rules have yet been promulgated to meet these requirements, similar standards exist in Florida and elsewhere under the auspices of Florida's Building Energy Rating System and under the national standards of the national Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET).
Additionally, the Florida Solar Energy Center has released a free 60-day trial version of software that makes the calaulations that are expected to be used for tax credit qualification. To download this free 60-day trial software click here.
The incentives apply to homes placed in service during 2006-2007, although extenders increasing the eligibility through 2009 are a possibility.
These provisions offer cost-based incentives of 10% of the amount expended by the taxpayer for "Qualified Energy Efficiency Improvements" and up to $300 for "Qualified Energy Property" up to a maximum credit limit of $500.
"Qualified Energy Efficiency Improvements" are specifically defined as:
- Any insulation material or system specifically designed to reduce heat loss or gain
- Exterior windows (including skylights)
- Exterior doors
- Any metal roof having pigmented coatings specifically designed to reduce heat gain which meet Energy Star program requirements.
"Qualified Energy Property" is defined as:
- Electric heat pump water heater with EF of 2.0 or greater
- Electric air source heat pumps with HSPF of 9.0 or greater
- Geothermal heat pumps:
- Closed loop products with EER of 16.2 and COP of 3.3 or greater
- Open loop products with EER of 14.1 and COP of 3.3 or greater
- Direct expansion (DX) products with EER of 15 and COP of 3.5 or greater
- Central air conditioner that receives the highest efficiency tier established by the Consortium of Energy Efficiency as of January 1, 2006
- Natural gas, propane or oil water heater with EF or 0.80 or greater
- Natural gas, propane or oil furnace or hot water boiler with AFUE of 95% or greater
- Advanced main air circulating fan used in natural gas, propane or oil furnace that uses no more than 2% of the total annual energy use of the furnace.
Credit limitations on qualified energy property are as follows:
- $50 for any advanced main air circulating fan
- $150 for any qualified natural gas, propane, or oil furnace or hot water boiler
- $300 for any item of qualified energy property.
The incentives apply to improvements and equipment placed in service during 2006-2007.
Residential Fuel Cells
This provision offers cost-based 30% tax credits to individuals for qualified residential fuel cell property expenditures up to a maximum credit limitation of $500 for each 500 watts installed capacity.
The incentives apply to equipment placed in service during 2006-2007. Fuel Cells and Microturbines Used in a Business This provision offers tax credits for fuel cells and microturbines used in a business. To qualify for the credit, fuel cells are required to be 500 watt capacity or greater with a generation efficiency of 30% or greater.
Microturbines are required to be of 2,000 kilowatt capacity or less with an efficiency of 26% at International Standards Organization conditions.
Tax credits and limitations are as follows:
- For fuel cells, a tax credit of 30% of the expenditure up to a maximum of $500 per 500 watts of capacity.
- For microturbines, a tax credit of 10% of the expenditure with a credit limitation of $200/kW.
The incentives apply to equipment placed in service during 2006-2007
Bio-diesel car rental opens in world's car capital
Tue Feb 28, 2006 8:20 PM ET
Bio-diesel car rental opens in world's car capital
Tue Feb 28, 2006 8:20 PM ET
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A company offering rental cars powered entirely by bio-diesel set up shop in Los Angeles on Tuesday, hoping to bring the aroma of popcorn and doughnuts to the city's smoggy freeways.
Just one snag -- there is only one place in town to fill up.
Bio-Beetle Eco Rental Cars, which started out on the Hawaiian island of Maui three years ago, opened for business near Los Angeles International Airport with four cars fueled by filtered vegetable oil.
"I've always wanted to come to Los Angeles," said founder Shaun Stenshol. " California is known as an environmentally friendly state and LA is the car capital of the world. What better place to do bio-diesel than Los Angeles?"
"As far as bio-diesel rental cars, I don't know of anyone else doing it in the world," said Stenshol, a former Greenpeace worker and environmental activist.
Bio-diesel costs $3.45 a gallon -- about $1 more than regular gas – but the cars get between 400 and 800 miles per tank. There is only one place where customers can fill up but Stenshol said he hoped to help set up other refueling stations in the Los Angeles metro area.
"There are people who say it smells like popcorn, or French fries or doughnuts. But to me it is just a pleasant tang," said Stenshol.