Too Good to be True?

On August 8, 2005, President George Bush signed H.R. 6, the Energy Policy Act of 2005.  The legislation contained market incentives in the form of a tax deduction for owner investments in commercial building energy efficiency.  The tax deduction is equal to the expenditures made by the taxpayer, subject to a cap… a cap of $1.80 per square foot!  That can be $180,000 on a 100,000 square foot building!  This applies to interior lighting systems, HVAC systems, hot water systems and the building envelope.  To get the entire deduction, the building must be certified to have achieved a minimum of 50% energy savings when compared to the standard requirements. I was just to a seminar on this subject last week and apparently less than 2% of the buildings eligible for this program have taken advantage of it.  How can this be?  The tax deduction pays for the lion’s share of the project renovation costs and then the energy savings go on forever.  Those savings transfer to the bottom line from Day One on. The simplest form of this program is changing light fixtures.  The new high efficiency fluorescent fixtures achieve major savings over the metal halide fixtures currently in use in most production plants.  The fluorescent fixtures also encourage the user to shut the lights off when not needed because they are instant on, rather than suffering the 10-minute warm up period experienced with metal halide.  This makes the use of motion sensors an option to further enhance saving opportunities. The thing about government grant programs is that they are “use it or lose it” carrots.  Despite adding an extension to this program, the low participation means this program will expire at the end of 2008 with little chance of further extension. Sounds too good to be true?  Apparently that’s part of the problem.  We have pitched this to several companies that could benefit, but have been unable to get them to pull the trigger.If you’re interested, more information is available at the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers’ website at, or at NEMA’s Government Relations Energy Policy site at







Update:  Another source of information has come to my attention.  You can also check out

Update:  The program has been extended into 2009.

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