Green

Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Tax Credits

With so much attention being given to the new first time home buyer tax credit, some potentially lucrative tax incentives for home improvements have been overlooked. There are some new tax incentives as well as some expansions given to the current tax credits for home improvements relating to energy efficiency and renewable energy additions like solar panels. Now I am NOT an accountant or tax professional. When it comes to your taxes, I recommend you seek the advice of an accredited tax professional. Hopefully the IRS will issue some firm guidelines on the details of these credits soon as there are bound to be a lot of questions regarding qualification.

Here are the new tax credits in a nutshell. There is a tax credit of up to $1,500 for installing qualifying windows, doors, water heaters, roofs, insulation, heating and cooling equipment (HVAC, qualifying wood and pellet stoves) to your home in 2009 and 2010. On the renewable energy side, the tax credit is 30% of the qualifying solar technology, geothermal and wind energy systems with no limit through 2016. So if you install some solar panels and a wind power generator, you will receive a 30% tax credit which lowers your tax bill dollar for dollar for the cost of the upgrade.

 

Notably the big increase is in the energy-efficiency tax credit, which went from 10% of the qualifying costs to 30% and the cap also goes up from $500 originally to $1,500 (that’s a total credit for all applicable improvements combined in 2009 and 2010). The credit also includes stoves that use renewable biomass fuel. Another big change with the 30% renewable energy credit is the removal of the cap on claims   for systems (except for fuel cells) installed after 2008.

Under the prior guidelines the cap was $2,000 for a solar system. Now you can take 30% of the qualifying cost instead.

If you live in an older home, these tax credits are targeted at you. Just replacing your older single pane windows with new dual pane, low e vinyl  replacements will have a significant impact on your utility bills. Not only will you save money, but living in your home will be more comfortable year round. Before making any decisions, I recommend you consult with your tax professional to maximize your tax benefits. Check out the web for more information about renewable energy sources and the differences between them.
Source: Wall Street Journal

Green Products Showcased at CES

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The theme for this year's Consumer Electronics Show is Green and in more ways than one. CES brings over 100,000 visitors to Las Vegas in one of the largest conventions held in the city. This year green products are being showcased in a speical area for environmentally friendly products. A new twist are products that use less power when in standby or "off" mode. The show is also emphasizing improving recycling and reducing its carbon output. Of course the whole goal is get consumers to spend money on new technology in this downturned economy.

Speaking of technology, last year we saw one of the most technologically advanced housing communities emerge (at least energy usage wise), Sommerset in Henderson. It was the first green community in Henderson and has some of the latest tech gadgets monitoring the home's energy usage.

New Community Profiles

A few new community profiles have been added to the site, including several for Mountain's Edge, the neighborhoods of Alpian Meadows, Ellingwood, San Mateo, Azure Canyon, Rio Vista, Augusta, Cameron, Cascade and Via Valencia and the master planned community of Eldorado Highlands in North Las Vegas. Another condominuim community was also added, Pacific Hills.

Greening your Las Vegas home

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With energy prices continuing to rise, many homeowners are looking for more ways to cut their expenses and make their home more 'green'. For Las Vegas residents, one of the biggest bills in the summer time is your electric bill. With temperatures still over 100 degrees, your air conditioner is running almost non-stop, especially if you live in an older home. That combined with your water bill can be substantial about five months every year. There are lots of things you can do to cut your utility bills and save money. Some are low or no cost, others will require a substantial investment. You’ve probably read articles or saw something on television listing things you can do to save on your utilities. Here are some things that you may not have heard about yet:

  1. Solar screens: This is one of the cheapest ways to reduce your electric bills during the summer, especially if you own an older home. The sun’s rays not only heat up your home, but fade fabrics and carpet as well. The screens will block out about 85% of the sun’s rays, helping to cool your house down by several degrees, which translates into lower a/c bills. These screens still let in plenty of natural light, but block the UV rays. If you are handy with tools, you can make and install these screens yourself for a few hundred dollars or so, depending on how many windows you have to cover. There are also several companies in Las Vegas that will install these screens or you. Feel free to contact me for a referral at 702-493-8033.
  2. Window Tinting: Basically the same concept as solar screens, tinting your windows can reduce the amount of UV rays that enter your home, causing heat and wear and tear on your furnishing.
  3. Reflecting Roof Coating: Do you have a concrete roof like Spanish Tile or even a galvanized roof, you can apply this thin reflective coating over your current roof to reduce your power bills. Sound a little too good to be true? The roof at the Nevada Power service center in Henderson saved an average of 18% in their power usage in a 24 hour period and 37% in their peak usage time after having their roof done. The same principle applies to the walls of your home. There is a wall coating product that creates a radiant heat barrier all year round, helping to keep the heat out in the summer and in during the winter. You can apply it like paint over your home. The coating is also a fire retardent and will make your outside paint last longer. A study conducted by the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) in conjunction with Nevada Power, established that the Cerama-Tech coating reduced energy bills by upwards of 30% for cooling.

There are plenty of low cost things you can do. Proper maintenance on your air conditioner, including replacing your filters on a monthly basis, can trim your electric bill. Here are some other blog posts and articles from the web about reducing your utility bills. Will energy efficiency effect home buying? Vote here.

Las Vegas gets largest green building in the world

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When you think of the Las Vegas strip with its miles of neon lights and huge television screens you wouldn't associate it with being green. However things on the strip are changing. The Palazzo resort opened at the end of 2007 without a lot of fanfare. That changed last week as the US Green Building Council presented the developer Las Vegas Sands Corp. with a Silver LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Certificate at an award ceremony, making the Palazzo resort the largest “green” building in the world. The $1.9-billion resort is more than four times bigger than any other LEED certified building to date.

The Las Vegas Sands Corp. also received "The Energy Innovator's Award" which recognizes energy-efficient and/or renewable energy technologies, services, or policies pertaining to new construction at the same ceremony.

Henderson gets its first green community

The city of Henderson is getting the first green, solar powered community in Nevada. The community of Sommerset features the latest solar technology and green construction techniques. This exclusive community of only 48 homes has three beautiful floor plans of one and two story homes. Homes size range from three to five bedrooms, starting at 1,626 square feet. Floorplans options include patios, den, teen retreats, game lofts and additional bedrooms. The homes include new GE technology in the SmartCommand Dashboard. The Dashboard will tell home owners about their water and power consumption, historical data and power production from the rooftop solar panels.

Homes are priced in the $300,000s, so they will not last. Call 702-493-8033 for the latest pricing and information.

CityCenter in the green

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As I had reported in an earlier, Why going green makes dollars and sense, the Nevada legislature in 2005 had passed a law giving very generous tax breaks to Green projects. Earlier this year, they decided perhaps they were too generous among concerns that state revenues may be negatively affected.

Only 5 projects would be affected by the change in the law, but after debate those projects will be grandfathered in to the original statute. Some of the projects, like the Molasky center have already been completed. Out of the five, CityCenter is the biggest winner by a landslide. The project is estimated to cost 7 billion dollars and will be the largest green project in the state.

The estimated tax savings under the '05 law were estimated at around $900 million dollars. The revised law reduces the tax breaks by about half.

CityCenter isn't the only Las Vegas strip property to cash in. The Palazzo which is due to be completed next year and the Fountainebleau are also grandfathered in. Both properties have also planned to add residential units to their properties as well.

There is still a catch however.  All of the properties still need to meet the green certification upon completion in order to be eligible for the tax breaks according to the state's Energy office.

Union Park accepted for LEED pilot program

The 61 acre master plan in downtown Las Vegas has received another major shot in the arm. The 6 billion dollar commercial project has been accepted into the U. Green Building's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) pilot program (the only one in Nevada). The program uses a system blending urbanism, green building design and smart growth. The site is located adjacent to the Union Park rail yards, just east of the I15 freeway.

Union Park at a glance

The project is scheduled to be complete in 2018 and will house the Lou Ruvo Brain Institute, designed by architect Frank Gehry, the Smith Center for the Performing Arts, the World Jewelry Center (possible site of a FTZ) and the Charlie Palmer Hotel a 400-room boutique hotel and condominium tower. There will also be a medical office and hotel campus adjacent to the Brain Institute.

Completed projects in the area include the Las Vegas Outlet mall and the soon to be completed World Market. At its completion, the Union Park development could be the biggest green project in Nevada.

The impact the project will have on the property values for the surrounding Las Vegas real estate should be very positive, especially for the residential properties like Newport Lofts, Soho, Streamline Tower and Verge. The thousands of jobs the project will create should also help increase the demand for close, quality housing.

Related:

Why going Green makes Dollars and Sense

Why going Green makes dollars and sense

Over the last two years, southern Nevada has seen a huge increase in the amount of "green" building in both the commercial and residential sectors. Many would attribute the growing green trend with rising fuel costs and a growing awareness by the consumer of global warming. While that is a reasonable assumption, its only part of the reason why builders are going green.

As usual, its about the money and I'm not talking about the dollars that consumers will save in utility bills. Back in 2005, the Nevada Legislature debated and unanimously approved a measure to cut property taxes up to 50% for 10 years for energy-efficient construction.  The measure also lowered sales taxes for building supplies to 2% as well. For an enormous project like CityCenter, the resulting savings in taxes are huge. Other residential Las Vegas high rise condos have followed suit, seeking the LEED certification. The latest one is the Verge, located downtown.

molasky green buildingIn this slow market, these huge tax breaks could be critical in the success of a project. Both CityCenter and Verge have done very well in sales, despite the huge inventory of high rise and lofts in the Vegas valley.

However, its not just residential projects that are cashing in on the green. The Molasky commercial center (pictured above) was the first commercial green office building in Las Vegas.  The new construction at the Lied animal shelter is another green project. The new kennels use the latest green technology and are powered by solar panels mounted between the kennels. The odds are we'll be seeing a lot more of these projects in the future.

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