Midwest Mechanical - An HVAC Blog

Save Green by Going Green: Energy Efficiency Incentives for Commercial Buildings

Published: September 12, 2016

Written by Tony Ponzo

While we contend that investing in energy efficiency for your commercial building almost always pays for itself through enhanced performance and reduced operational costs, there’s another big financial factor that some building owners and facility managers may not be aware of.

Save Green by Going Green

Energy Efficiency Incentives

Across the United States, lawmakers at every level of government have been listening to the public’s demand for more robust legislation supporting sustainable, environmentally friendly products, services, and infrastructure. With commercial buildings representing a large percentage of the total energy consumption in this country, it’s not surprising that much of this legislation has been directed toward the commercial sector.

In addition to more stringent regulations involving energy consumption and efficiency in commercial buildings, a lot of this legislation has also made available lucrative tax incentives and other financial benefits that commercial building owners and managers should definitely consider when pricing energy-related work and determining their return on the investment.

Following is a summary of the types of incentives and rebate programs available at the local, state, and federal levels for commercial buildings that invest in energy optimization:

Local Chicago Programs

Perhaps the best known energy incentive program available to commercial buildings across Chicago is the city-wide Retrofit Chicago Commercial Buildings Initiative which has been in place for over four years now.

The program represents one-third of the full Retrofit Chicago energy efficiency program that is also aimed at residential and municipal buildings across the city. Participants in the commercial buildings initiative agree to aim for a 20% reduction in energy usage within five years of joining, and to track and share their progress via Energy Star’s Portfolio Manager.

In return, the program coordinates valuable incentives and rebates through ComEd and Peoples Gas that has helped building owners recoup their investment far faster than they otherwise could through cost containment and performance enhancement alone.

Another example of a local City of Chicago program that is aimed at new building construction and major renovations or expansions is the Green Permit program which will expedite the potentially lengthy permit process on projects that meet certain energy efficiency standards.

To explore other available local incentive programs, you can review this portal on the City of Chicago website:

Contact us and one of our energy engineers can review with you the programs that may apply to your building.

State of Illinois Energy Incentives

On the state level, the Public Sector Energy Efficiency Program offers rebates for all qualified municipal properties that invest in efficient equipment, including HVAC.

The Smart Energy Design Assistance Center (SEDAC) is an energy research program run through the University of Illinois that offers free design consultation to both public and private facilities that are interested in building or retrofitting with energy efficient equipment.

Many other incentive, rebate, and grant programs exist through various smaller state agencies and private organizations, each with their own qualification requirements and procedures. A good rundown of available statewide programs, most of which will apply to Chicago facilities, is available on the DSIRE website.

Federal Energy Incentive Programs

The Federal government also offers several valuable programs to reward investment in energy efficiency. These include tax incentives, accelerated depreciation incentives, special tax deductions, and funding opportunities that can help make these investments possible.

How to qualify and apply for these programs

A comprehensive discussion of all the specific qualifications and application instructions for every energy efficiency incentive program, rebate, and grant available to commercial building owners would fill a good-sized book, and we won’t attempt to cover it all here.

However, understand that each program has its own list of detailed qualification requirements and application process. In many cases, the procedures are highly detailed and border on complex. This can be a hindrance if you try to wade through all of the necessary information on your own. It helps to go into the process with guidance from rebate experts because oftentimes the complexity results in building owners give up before qualifying.

Contact us today to arrange for an audit of your building. This first step allows our energy engineers to determine which programs on the federal, state, and local level will apply to your building. They’ll be able to outline the necessary qualification and application requirements for you, and begin to walk you through the process of obtaining these valuable rebates.

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