4  FM quick reads on HVAC

1. Geothermal Systems May Qualify for Tax Benefits

Today's topic is tax benefits for geothermal systems.

Geothermal systems work by transferring heat to and from the ground or ground water. In cold weather, the liquid in the pipes draws heat from the subsurface; in warm weather, heat from the building is transferred into the ground.

Geothermal systems provide heating and cooling without the use of fossil fuels. As a result, they have garnered new attention because of the growing interest in green design.

Geothermal systems may qualify for federal tax benefits in several ways. But some require action this year, says Charles Goulding of Energy Tax Savers.

For example, there is a 10 percent geothermal tax credit or an equivalent 10 percent cash credit in lieu of the tax credit. The cash credit is only available for geothermal projects that commence by December 31, 2010. In addition to the credit or cash grant, a geothermal project will also be eligible for accelerated 5 year MACR's tax depreciation and additional bonus tax depreciation in tax years where bonus depreciation is available, says Goulding.

Geothermal installations may also qualify for tax deductions under the Energy Policy Act, or EPAct, if the project reduces energy costs at least 16.67 percent below the costs for a building designed to meet ASHRAE 90.1-2001. Energy modeling is required to show the energy cost savings. Goulding says that geothermal systems are among the types of HVAC installations that most often qualify for EPAct deductions.

Benefits of Submetering Central Plant Can Justify Cost

Today's topic is the value of submetering the central plant.

The chiller plant is likely to be one of the facility's largest energy users, and often the largest. That makes it a good candidate for submetering.

The biggest obstacle to submetering is typically cost. But submetering the chiller plant offers a range of important benefits that can justify the cost. Perhaps most important is that it enables facility managers to analyze the energy consumption of the central plant. For example, if chiller plant energy use climbs from one spring to the next, it may be that outside air economizers aren't working properly. Or a change in operations or a problem with controls may have caused a spike in electricity use. Addressing problems like those can bring significant savings.

Data from submeters can be used to test the effectiveness of various operational measures designed to save energy and to verify whether upgrades have actually performed as expected.

What's more, submetered data may help to identify problems with equipment. Addressing those problems may not only save energy, but prolong the life of the equipment or identify a piece of equipment that is failing.

Finally, in a multitenant building, the use of submeters can be an element in an overall energy efficiency or green strategy used to attract and retain tenants.


HVAC , energy efficiency , tax deductions , cost savings , ASHRAE 90.1 , Energy Policy Act , EPAct , geothermal systems

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