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Given a choice, most people prefer the carrot to the stick; at this point in the development of green building methods, techniques and technologies, incentive systems seem a better approach than mandates. Incentives allow the private sector to experiment with a vast array of methods for achieving various levels of energy-efficiency and LEED certification. By combining all of a building's environmental attributes into a point system, LEED makes it easy to trade off among various components of a building while still achieving a specified result such as Silver, Gold or Platinum.

However, green building advocates and local and state government leaders are not going to wait around for the private sector to construct high-performance buildings. By 2010, if not sooner, we are going to see incentives coupled with mandates, as green buildings and green homes move into the mainstream. The issues of combating climate change are too urgent and too political to wait a generation for the private sector to start constructing and operating buildings in a sustainable manner. But for now, incentives are the preferred method for accelerating the growth of green buildings.

Examples of State and Local Green Buildings and Renewable Energy Incentives

Type of Incentive

Some Examples

Income tax credit for green buildings

Oregon and New York

Income tax credit for solar energy systems

Arizona, New York, New Mexico, Utah and Oregon

Property tax abatement for LEED Silver or higher ratings

Nevada, Michigan, Minnesota and Massachusetts

Sales tax relief for solar units

Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Maryland and Ohio

Priority processing of building permits

Chicago and Los Angeles

Density bonuses for LEED projects

Seattle and Arlington VA

Utility subsidies for photovoltaic systems

California, Arizona, Alabama, Colorado, Texas, Hawaii and Florida

Grants and loans for renewable energy systems

Alabama, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Ohio and Tennessee

State and local governments offer many incentives for green buildings and renewable energy systems. As you can see, there are a lot of public policy options and incentive opportunities for promoting green buildings at any level of government.

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Solar Panel Basics

Solar Panel Basics

Global warming is a huge problem which will significantly affect every country in the world. Many people all over the world are trying to do whatever they can to help combat the effects of global warming. One of the ways that people can fight global warming is to reduce their dependence on non-renewable energy sources like oil and petroleum based products.

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