Federal and State Tax Incentives

For your information:

Federal and State tax incentives promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency industries prepared by Edwards Wildman Palmer LLP.


Builder Tax Incentive Renewed

Tax credits for builders of energy efficient homes had expired at the end of 2009, but a recent bill extended the credit to cover 2010 and 2011.

Builders who place a house into service between January 1, 2006 and December 31, 2011 may take this $2,000 credit if the house meets the requirements.  The home would have to qualify by projecting to save at least 50% on the heating and cooling energy of a home meeting the 2004 IECC. 

If you, as a builder, had a house placed into service in 2010 with an Energy Star certificate and a low HERS rating (50 or better) you may be able to qualify for the credit.  Contact your HERS rater and have them run the tax credit report to see if the house qualified.  Additional fees may apply.  If you are beginning a home construction project, and are building a very efficient building envelope, you should ask your HERS rater to check if the home will meet the tax credit qualifications. 

To find out more, go to the following web sites:
Tax Incentives Assistance Project
RESNET Procedures for Certifying Residential Energy Efficiency Tax Credit For New Homes
Qualifying for the New Home Tax Credit: Examples in 9 U.S. Cities

Letter to the editor Green Building

“Santa Fe New Mexican
Letters to the editor, August 5, 2010

Shades of green building decisions

Regarding the Aug. 1 My View, “Affordable housing requirements cause neighborhood tensions”: Ann Hershberger’s defense of developers and builders was well-reasoned and welcomed by many suffering the worst-ever decline of the industry. Except for one glaring misrepresentation: Her statement that “With green certification ... construction costs rise around 40 percent” is unsubstantiated and untrue.

“Green” is not simply a line to be crossed; it has many shades, from barely green to deep green. Santa Fe’s new code, for instance, starts with light green at its basic level and goes to “emerald” at its greenest. The deeper the shade, the more expensive the compliance. But at no point is it anywhere near adding 40 percent. The National Association of Homebuilders estimates that costs double with each “color.” Bronze level adds 2 percent, silver 4 percent, gold 8 percent and emerald adds 16 percent. Santa Fe’s base code is equivalent to NAHB’s silver; one-tenth of 40 percent. Such inaccurate statements create reactionary attitudes.

Kim Shanahan
Santa Fe “

Dedication of the Habitat Green Built Home on Gomez

The Santa Fe Area Home Builders Association and its Green Building Council partnered with the City of Santa Fe to build a ‘Green’ and sustainable home for Habitat for Humanity.

The Home was dedicated to the family chosen by Habitat for Humanity in Santa Fe on March 21. For more information on the Santa Fe Habitat for Humanity
Santa Fe Habitat for Humanity
At the Dedication Kim Shanahan, Executive Officer explained some onf the Green Features:

The home was a demonstration of the new City of Santa Fe Green Building Codes.
Santa Fe Area Homebuilders Association and Santa Fe Habitat for Humanity present:
601B Gomez Street, Santa Fe, NM

Green Features
(from the proposed Residential Green Building Code of the City of Santa Fe)

Section 1: Project Implementation Plan and Lot Development

6 pts. Choose an infill site (vacant or underutilized lots of land, served by existing roads, mass transit, power lines, sewer and water).
9 pts. Choose an infill site of less than 6,000 square feet.

Section 2: Resource Efficiency

8 Pts. Create an efficient home floor plan smaller than the national average.  (942 s.f. –
2 bedrooms)
3 pts. Provide a pre-cut (joist) or pre-manufactured (truss) floor and roof framing
4 pts. Provide a panelized wall framing system.  (Walls framed off site, reduces waste
and protects it from the elements during construction.)

Section 3: Energy Efficiency

Have plan analysis that shows HERS (Home Energy Rating System) Index.
Prevent thermal bypass, complete and pass a thermal bypass inspection.
Building envelope leakage (blower door test) results less than .35 Air Changes per Hour under natural conditions.
Central HVAC duct leakage below 6 Cubic Feet per Minute to unconditioned
space per 100 square feet of conditioned floor area. (This requirement can be waived if all ducts and equipment are located inside conditioned

50 pts. HERS Index of 50
Items included in the rating:
R-22, stem wall insulation with an insulated concrete form.
R -10 rigid insulation under the slab.
2 x 6 frame walls at 24 inches on center with R-20 in the wall cavity and R-10 rigid insulation on the exterior.
Pella fiberglass windows with low E glass.
R-50 blown cellulose ceiling insulation.
6pts. 32 square feet of solar panels for domestic hot water and space heating.
82% efficient boiler for hot water and space heating.

Section 4: Water Efficiency

14 pts. Energy Star water conserving appliances, 7 per appliance.  (Dishwasher and washing machine)
2 pts. Water efficient showerhead using conventional aerator or venture technology for flow rate of less than 2.5 gallons per minute.
3 pts. Water efficient sink faucets/aerators less than 2.2 gallons/minute for kitchen and less than 1.5 gallons per minute for bathrooms.
7 pts. Low-volume, non-spray irrigation system installed, e.g., drip irrigation, bubblers, drip emitters, and stream-rotator heads. All irrigation systems served by potable water shall have backflow prevention.

Section 5: Indoor Air Quality

6 pts. Install sealed combustion appliances for space and water heating.
8 pts. Ensure particleboard, OSB, medium density fiberboard (MDF) and hardwood plywood substrates, used in the conditioned area, are certified to low formaldehyde emission standards ANSI A208.1, ANSI A208.2 and ANSI/HPVA HP1, respectively.  Composite wood/agrifiber panel products must
all either contain no added urea-formaldehyde resins or must be third party certified for low formaldehyde emissions for entire house. 
8 pts. When installing forced air systems, install a HRV or ERV with a HEPA filter

Section 6: Operation, Maintenance and Sustainable Practices

9 pts. Provide Home Owner’s Manual with some of the following information:
Local Green Building Program certificate.
Household recycling opportunities.
Information on how to enroll in a program so that the home receives energy from a renewable energy provider.
Local public transportation options.
Instructions for maintaining solar systems.

For more information on the Proposed City of Santa Fe green building codes City of Santa fe Green Building code

Performance Windows

High Performance Windows for Your Building Envelope
Power Point Presentation:

High Performance Windows
For Your Building Envelope

Danny Buck Back to the Future

Back to the Future for C02 Emissions Goal
Danny Buck

7/27/08 Sunday: New Mexican:

Climate change and how we respond to it is the defining challenge of our generation. Greenhouse gases are the major cause of the Earth’s warming and of climate change. Carbon dioxide CO2 is the most common and the most significant of the greenhouse gases generated by humans.

The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere rose from around 275 parts per million to 300 ppm with the industrial revolution, is now at 385 ppm and is currently increasing at about 2 ppm annually. If we can get it back to 350 ppm, where it was in 1988, then we can probably expect to have a climate resembling our own and avert catastrophe. Some scientists are aiming for even lower concentrations.

How do we immediately and dramatically reduce CO2 emissions? Turn off the coal plants. Approximately 50 percent of the power — but 81 percent of the CO2 generated by the production of electrical energy — comes from coal-fired plants. We must immediately stop construction of all new conventional coal plants and phase out all existing plants by 2030. (Current “clean” coal plants capture particulates, but do not reduce CO2.)

The two sides of the strategy that can be employed to deal with this reduction in energy production are:

1) replace the production with other means (e.g. solar, wind, tri-generation) and,

2) use less energy.

A lot of debate is raging around the former, recently defined by Al Gore, but let’s consider the latter.

How do we best address using less energy? Because 76 percent of all electricity generated by power plants is used to operate buildings, energy efficiency in buildings is a very good way to offset this decrease in electrical production. In response to this, a local architect, Ed Mazria, has issued the 2030 Challenge. The 2030 Challenge calls for all new buildings to be built to use half the fossil-fuel energy that that building type would typically consume, starting immediately. It also calls for an equal amount of existing building area to be renovated annually to cut its individual fossil fuel usage in half.

The fossil fuel reduction in new and renovated buildings is then to be increased to
60 percent in 2010; 70 percent in 2015; 80 percent in 2020; 90 percent in 2025; and they are to be “carbon neutral” in 2030. The 2030 Challenge allows the use of renewable energy technologies for up to 20 percent, the rest being achieved through design. At our current rate of construction and renovation, this country’s building stock will be 75 percent new or remodeled between now and 2030.

The reductions in energy use can be achieved largely through building shape, orientation and insulation, using natural heating, cooling, daylighting and ventilation — all straightforward design strategies that are being successfully implemented in cutting edge buildings today.

The city of Santa Fe is reviewing a new energy code, co-authored by the Santa Fe Area Homebuilders Association, that should be in place by the end of the year. It will require a Home Energy Rating System (HERS) score of 70, which is within 3 percent of meeting the 2030 Challenge’s 50 percent reduction. It will make our city one of the top leaders in the country in moving decisively to get the atmosphere’s CO2 concentration back to 350 ppm.

This is a very exciting time to be alive, to try and understand how we as a species are contributing to climate change, and to learn how to all work together to meet this challenge.

The 2030 Challenge is presented in great detail at

Danny Buck is a local green builder, a SFAHBA board member and a trustee on its Green Building Council.


Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Journal Article Emerald Home
Designer, builder demonstrates ‘zero carbon footprint’ house

By Jackie Jadrnak
Journal Staff Writer
Faren Dancer is trying to jump-start the future by demonstrating how to build a zero-energy house.
That’s right: A home where residents can laugh at rising utility costs, because solar panels generate enough electricity to offset power use. Where the house is sealed tightly enough to keep cool air from leaking out in summer and sneaking in in winter.
He’s not stopping there. Dancer is thinking about energy used in the cradle-to-building life of the construction materials. He is using wood salvaged from old barns inside the home, and dirt compressed from the site to make the bricks for the walls.
The inspiration, he said, came in 2006 when he saw an Al Gore-type presentation by Ed Mazria, a pioneer in Santa Fe’s passive solar construction. It showed seas rising from global warming, swallowing America’s coastlines.
“I decided I was only going to build zero-energy homes from that time on,” said Dancer, who serves on Santa Fe’s Green Buildings Code Committee. The group is considering how to meet the 2030 Challenge — a goal adopted by the American Institute of Architects and the U.S. Congress of Mayors to have zero carbon emissions from new buildings by the year 2030.
“Santa Fe probably is more aggressive than other cities in making a mandatory HERS (Home Energy Rating System) rating — next year there will be a baseline rating to achieve,” Dancer said. He predicted the city building code will require a 70 HERS rating — that means new homes would have to be 30 percent more energy-efficient than previous ones.
Ever since January, the city has required that new homes have a HERS rating before a certificate of occupancy can be issued, according to Jack Hiatt, land use director. “It’s like giving a car a mileage sticker,” he said. “Now, it can be any number.”
The city’s Green Buildings Code, which will set a maximum allowable rating, will be ready for City Council committee review in the next few months, according to Councilor Rebecca Wurzburger. It could be law by the end of the year, she said.
“I don’t foresee any major problems,” she said. “We’ve had great support from the building industry.”
To illustrate how green building can be done, all the way down to zero net energy use, Dancer is putting up a 4,125-square-foot home in Monte Sereno, a development south of the Santa Fe Opera. At a ceremonial ground-breaking for the home Monday — it’s called “The Emerald Home” — Dancer wielded a bright green shovel on a hillside dotted with piñon and juniper trees. “We have to work together to create the future we know we need to create,” he said.
“Zero carbon footprint — that describes very well what we are trying to do in Santa Fe,” Wurzburger said.
Dancer admits that this model home is designed to appeal to the high-end consumer. Its asking price will be $2.2 million, he said. With only about 18 homes already built in a development expected to include more than 400, he’s hoping he can convince buyers to choose the zero-energy option.
But green construction techniques don’t have to be limited to rich movie stars. In Vistas Bonitas, a housing development near Rufina behind Home Depot, homes with a 55 HERS rating are being built by Kim Shanahan for less than $200,000, according to Dancer.
Next spring, Dancer said, he hopes to launch construction of a second zero-energy model home — that one only 1,000 square feet on an off-grid site at Glorieta Mesa. “My goal as a builder is not just to cater to the rich, but to show an educational model,” he said. “The techniques and materials and building approaches can be scaled down to a much smaller project.”
The city of Santa Fe and Santa Fe Community College will videotape the construction of the Monte Sereno home to show others how it can be done. According to Dancer, who teaches green building techniques at the Community College and got a grant for the documentary, the video will be incorporated into an online course scheduled to be offered at the college by fall 2009.
The city project will use the video as part of a program to teach builders about different green techniques, along with information about various tax credits or rebates available with various approaches. “This, for us, is an informal pilot project,” said Hiatt. “It’s meant to be a demo of how contractors have to deal with green building in the future.”
When finalized, according to Dancer, the city building codes will require compliance in six categories:
Site impact. This would take into account, for example, how much the land and vegetation are disturbed.
Energy efficiency. Insulation, energy-efficient appliances, thermal efficiency of windows, solar and geothermal heating or electricity all could be factors.
Water efficiency. In his model, Dancer has water catchment to store up to 5,100 gallons of runoff from the roof. Low-flow faucets and shower heads are pluses in this category, as well as double-flush toilets. (Those toilets have two settings, for either a spritz of water for urine or a stronger flush for the more solid human waste, according to Dancer.)
Resource efficiency. This is the category that looks at whether or not materials are recycled, or come from a local source (such as dirt from the site and not timber cut down in Canada).
Healthy indoor air quality. In his model, Dancer said, he is not using carpeting, which sheds chemical fumes, and is avoiding formaldehyde, a common ingredient in cabinetry. A filtered air exchange system brings in fresh air so air in the well-insulated house doesn’t get stale.
Homeowner education. “You can put in a wonderful system, but if the homeowner is clueless and leaves the lights on and the door open, it’s all for naught,” Dancer said.

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