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AIA Report Examines Incentives for Green Buildings
State and local governments around the country are using a variety of incentives to encourage green building practices.
These efforts have encountered challenges including the cost of new incentive programs, resource shortcomings and implementation difficulties, according to a new report from the American Institute of Architects (AIA).
The report, Local Leaders in Sustainability – Green Incentives, defines and examines many types of incentive programs, details the inherent barriers to success and highlights best practice examples from around the country.
The report identified the most attractive incentives as:
Tax incentives – temporarily reduced taxes for specific levels of green measures and certification.
Local example: city tax exemption, Cincinnati, Ohio
A 100 percent tax exemption for LEED certified buildings, not to exceed $500,000 over 15 years for new buildings and over 10 years for renovations, is offered by the city. If the building receives LEED Platinum certification, there is no maximum exemption.
Density / floor area ratio bonuses – implement height bonuses, floor area/ration bonuses, reductions in landscaping requirements and inclusion of green roof space as landscaping/open space in return for achieving levels of green building ratings.
Local example: green building incentive program, Arlington, Virginia
This incentive awards commercial projects and private developments that earn LEED certification additional density between .15 and .35 FAR and/or additional height of up to three stories (the higher the certification level, the greater the density awarded). Certification does not guarantee additional density — projects are analyzed on a case-by-case basis. The master certificate of occupancy is awarded when the building is certified.
Expedited permitting – streamline the permitting process for building, plan and site permits on projects that achieve a certain level of sustainability.
Local example: Chicago Green Permit Program
This program reduces the permitting process for developers and owners who build green to less than 30 business days and, in some cases, less than 15 days. The length is determined by the number of green building elements, the LEED certification level, and the project complexity.
Additional recommendations in the report include:
- Hire trained professionals in multiple departments who are knowledgeable about sustainable design and green rating systems to ensure expedited permitting and zone fee reductions can be executed.
- Conduct public education campaigns to better inform the public and building owners on the environmental, economic and public health benefits of green buildings.
- Target a wide spectrum of builders, developers, owners and operators with a mix of mutually beneficial incentive options.
- Develop grant and loan programs to address needs of smaller businesses.
- Seek federal support for green building through grant programs, district tax credits and small business loans.