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Free Cash For Your Green Building from Tax Deductions

Energy efficiency and green building tax deduction and tax liability reduction bring savings to commercial building owners.

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High energy costs, an unprecedented level of government mandates for green building, heightened demand for green construction, and improvements and better pricing for environmentally sustainable materials have many building owners, architects, and facility managers considering significant updates to save cash.

Sec. 179D of the IRS Code provides a significant deduction for the cost of energy-efficient improvements to commercial property.

With an estimated 4.5 million existing commercial properties in the U.S. and with 14% of U.S. cities with populations of at least 50,000 having mandated green standards for new commercial buildings and dozens more poised to follow, the 179D tax deduction could help mitigate the average 3-7% cost difference in building green.

Build Green – Get Cash From Taxes

If your company owns or leases commercial buildings including residential rental buildings with four or more stories above grade and you have installed or retrofitted the property to be more energy efficient, you may be eligible for a deduction for part or all of the costs associated with the installation or retrofit. In other words, instead of capitalizing and recovering through depreciation over 27.5 years or 39 years this allows for potential immediate expensing of costs.

Cash Flow - There’s Gold in Your Green Building

The maximum deduction is $1.80 per square foot of building floor area that qualifies under IRC Sec. 179D measured against the reference building. The deduction is allowed for prior tax years, including 2006 and 2007, and can include multiple taxpayers. Multiple taxpayers are limited to allocating the $1.80 among the taxpayers. And, if your building does not qualify for the full deduction, it could qualify for a partial deduction. If your building does not meet the 50% energy savings, it could still qualify for 60 cents per square foot deduction if certified to reduce energy costs by at least 16.66%.

$85,000 Reduction in Tax Liability

A building owner constructs a new, 120,000 sq. ft., 4-story office building that exceeds all ASHRAE reference building comparisons including interior lighting systems, HVAC, hot water systems, and building envelope and gets the full deduction of $1.80/sqft. Additional tax deduction first year benefit expensing comes to $216,000. With a combined tax rate of 40%, the immediate cash value of the deduction would be $85,000. At an 8% discount rate the overall net present value building life would be $59,000.

$28,000 Reduction in Tax Liability

A building owner retrofits an existing 120,000 square foot, 4-story building and receives a partial deduction of $.60/sqft by replacing existing lighting systems with high efficiency lights combined with bi-level switching. First year benefit expensing (an additional tax deduction) would be $72,000. At a combined tax rate of 40%, the immediate cash value of the deduction would be $28,000. At an 8% discount rate the overall net present value building life would be $19,600.

How Green Building Tax Deductions Work

If you have constructed a new commercial building or reconstructed an existing commercial building and placed the building into service after December 31, 2005 or will place it into service by January 1, 2009 you may be eligible for a deduction. If your building has been or is in the process of becoming LEED Gold or Platinum-certified, you’re nearly assured the deduction. And if you haven’t already taken advantage of the deduction your return can be amended for up to three years.

Qualifying Energy Efficient and Green Buildings

To qualify for a full or partial deduction, the energy-efficient commercial building property must meet the following criteria:

  • The building must be located in the United States.
  • Installation as part of interior lighting systems, HVAC and hot water systems or the building envelope (insulation, exterior doors, exterior windows, roofing material).
  • Certified that installation will reduce total annual energy and power costs by 50 percent or more as compared to Std. 90.1-2001 American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Reference Building.
  • Energy and power consumption calculation based on IRS-approved software programs that compare the subject facility to an ASHRAE Reference Building.
  • The property must be certified by an IRS-qualified professional engineer or contractor licensed in the same jurisdiction as the proposed building.

Tax Deduction Eligibility for Green Buildings

The person or organization that makes the expenditures for construction is generally the recipient of the allowed tax deductions. This is usually the building owner, but for some HVAC or lighting efficiency projects, it could be the tenant. For government-owned buildings, the building or system designer may take the deduction.

Government-owned Energy Efficient Buildings

If the property is a Federal, State, or local government or a political subdivision, the owner of the property may allocate the section 179D deduction to the person primarily responsible for designing the property. For example, a designer may include the architect, engineer, contractor, environmental consultant or energy services provider.

Green building federal tax deductions – are you missing out? Before a taxpayer may claim the section deduction, the taxpayer must obtain a certification (not to be confused with LEED certification) with respect to the property. The certification must be provided by a qualified individual and satisfy the requirements of section 179D(c)(1).

The qualified individual must be properly licensed as a professional engineer or contractor in the jurisdiction in which the building is located, not be "related" to the taxpayer taking the deduction (as defined by the IRS), and represent to the taxpayer in writing that he or she has the requisite qualifications to provide the certification. The certifier must also use IRS-qualified computer software. Software must be on a list of products approved by the U.S. Department of Energy.

SourceCorp can provide your Green Building Tax Deduction Certification/Analysis

The Energy Tax Incentives Act greatly encourages commercial building energy conservation. For an immediate and free review of your property to see up front whether or not this deduction will improve your cash flow, contact SourceCorp Professional Services at:

FREE Green Building Tax Deduction Review

About SourceCorp:
Celebrating their 25th year in business, SourceCorp specializes in Green Building 179D Tax Deduction Certification, LIFO Accounting, R&D Tax Credit Studies, and Cost Segregation Studies. With a team of nearly 70 professionals and with offices located throughout the country, SourceCorp helps clients realize unparalleled experience, services, and trust. SourceCorp serves many of the nation’s most prominent CPA firms, Associations, and Fortune 1000 companies.

SourceCorp Media Contact:
Doug Morrell 817.732.5494 x151
For more information call 817.732.5494 or visit

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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