Tag Archive | "LEED"

State Legislature Approves Property Tax Exemptions for Green Building

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This week, the New York State Legislature approved a law authored by local Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. that would provide a tax incentive to builders and homeowners constructing energy efficient green buildings.

Thiele said the “Energy Conservation Bill” is his most significant environmental legislation since the Community Preservation Fund was created for the five East End towns in 1999.

The bill passed in the Assembly and the State Senate unanimously.

The law, which must be ratified by Governor Andrew Cuomo, gives local governments or school districts the right to provide property tax exemptions —through a local law, ordinance or resolution — for construction or improvements made after January 1, 2013 that meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification standards for green buildings. This includes commercial or residential development.

In addition to LEED certification, the Green Building Initiative’s Green Globes rating system, the American National Standards Institute, or other substantially equivalent standards for certification using a similar program for green buildings as determined by the municipal corporation would also be eligible for the exemption.

According to the legislation, eligible parties could receive a 100-percent property tax exemption if they meet Silver, Gold or Platinum LEED status for at least three years. After that the level of exemption — except for Platinum LEED status, declines by 20-percent each successive year. Those who achieve Platinum LEED status — the most difficult level to achieve — would be eligible for a 100-percent exemption for a total of six years.

To be eligible for the tax exemption, the construction must exceed $10,000, be certified as a green building, and be the subject of a valid building permit. Ordinary maintenance and repairs are not eligible for the exemption. The local assessor must approve the exemption.

“Under Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York has become pro-active in promoting efforts to reduce energy demands and greenhouse gas emissions by promoting energy efficiency in homes and businesses throughout the state,” said Thiele. “Significant measures have already been enacted in an effort to accomplish this goal such as on-bill financing, solar feed-in tariffs, and net metering. This legislation, my most significant environmental bill since the creation of the Community Preservation Fund (CPF), would provide another major incentive to promote energy efficiency and conservation. Not only will this legislation reduce energy demand, it will promote economic development by encouraging new construction that meets green building standards.”

“This bill will make a real difference in encouraging green construction for both homes and businesses,” he added. “It is imperative that we promote energy efficiency in our communities with whatever tools are at our disposal. These incentives will encourage the use of the highest level of energy design in new construction. We can reduce our costs and our reliance on expensive energy by reducing demand in the first place.”

The legislation was delivered to Governor Cuomo on July 6. He has until next Monday to ratify the law.

Going For Gold: How Building an Eco-Friendly House led to LEED Gold

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By Susan Goldstein

In October of 2005, a perfect storm descended on North Haven—the high tide of a full moon, a nor’ easter coming in from New England, and the remnants of a hurricane arriving from the south. While basements near water are now wisely prohibited by FEMA law, our Sag Harbor Cove house, built more than fifty years ago, had a basement. It flooded, and water rose two inches above the first floor, leaving us with irresolvable mold problems. The only solution? Total renovation.

But somewhere in that storm was the proverbial cloud with a silver lining. While at first I planned only to build a light-filled, modern house, I soon decided to aim higher: to build a house that would meet the LEED standard of the U.S. Green Building Council, which promotes the design and construction of high-performance green homes. In that way, I’d not only improve my property but also do something environmentally friendly.
What’s more, serving on the Save Sag Harbor committee and being involved with the Group For the East End made me very aware of Sag Harbor’s preservationist concerns. I realized building an eco-friendly house would help me do my part in upholding them. My renovation project turned into a challenging five-year adventure that’s about to come to a rewarding close, and I will be able to live in my beloved Sag Harbor home for half the year.

By a stroke of good luck, the architect/engineer I had already chosen, Dominick R. Pilla, was LEED-accredited. Together, Dom and I planned a home that was energy-and water-efficient, with locally reclaimed and sustainably harvested raw materials—a home that would put a minimal amount of stress on the environment. To my delight, we were able to find other local designers and crafts people who shared our vision and carried it out, among them Richard Kissane Builders, landscape architect Tony Piazza, the SRK pool company, designer Richard Mervis and cabinetmaker Will Paulson.

Now, photovoltaic solar panels on my new flat roof convert the sun’s energy into electricity. They produce some or all the power we need in summer for the household and pool. In winter, when we use the house less, we will have an excess of power. It will be fed into the power company grid, and I’ll earn “credits” on my bill.

Solar thermal panels heat the water for our faucets and our pool, which thanks to systems from SKR we clean without using any chemicals.
We limited the area of conventional turf and favored planting in shaded areas, and we used drought-tolerant non-invasive species for ground cover on 40% of the lot. They will be irrigated with harvested rainwater stored in underground cisterns and “grey water” from the dishwasher, washing machine, sinks and tubs. (Since we don’t produce enough grey water to make it cost-effective to recycle for other uses, we get drinking water from a town aquifer).

The heating and cooling is managed through a very efficient geothermal system that uses the constant temperature of the earth rather than outside temperature as the exchange medium. A ground source pump heats the water for radiant heat (through the floor) while providing cool air for cooling. Though the system is initially costly, energy savings make up the difference in less than a decade, and the system won’t need replacing for many years.
Since windows account for about a quarter of all heat gains and losses, we built overhangs, installed argon-filled double-paned windows with low-E coating that keeps such gains and losses minimal, and used insulation that provides nearly twice the barrier that code requires.

Of course we used only Energy Star appliances, low-flush toilets, and other environmentally friendly equipment and material, right down to the glue.
The design strategies, which were the most interesting and fun for me, were also eco-friendly. For example, we rebuilt on the existing foundation, installed bamboo floors, used soy-based insulation, and used reclaimed cypress for siding. While “recycled” items and products must be destroyed so the parts can be scavenged, we tried instead to work with “reused” or “reclaimed” items and products.

These are generally in their original form, though minor repair and replacement may be necessary, and you can’t always be certain of the results. For example, once the cypress siding was dried, installed, sanded to remove nail marks and rust drippings, and then coated with an eco-friendly product (to keep its integrity), it wasn’t precisely the color I’d have chosen, but I was happy to make the trade off. You also have to work with limited quantities. I fell in love with a small amount of mindfully engineered French oak flooring with which Richard managed to decorate two large rooms downstairs. I’m overjoyed about the stair treads, coffee and dining room table, statues and benches that Will is creating out of two beloved but failing cherry trees that for years I’d kept standing with a system of cables. He knew just how to cut those trees so they’d serve various uses and continue to be part of our daily lives. To be LEED-certified, you have to earn a certain number of points on a rating system. If you surpass the minimum, you can achieve a silver, gold, and even platinum level. I am proud that we now qualify to apply for a gold.

I started this project to do my part in preserving our world and to show others that it can be done. An increased demand for eco-friendly materials, designs and systems should help drive prices down, and that would make it possible for still others to participate. It’s my hope that my dream home inspires others to pursue similar dreams of their own.