As the benefits of green building continue to emerge, many municipalities are enacting laws that require certain green techniques be used. In addition, both states and the federal government are putting financial incentives in place to encourage green development.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, also called the stimulus package, allows a tax credit of 30 percent of the cost of small improvement projects, up to $1,500. This includes window, door and roof replacements, insulation projects and replacing old appliances with more efficient EnergyStar models.
For those interested in more advanced greening projects, the Recovery Act also allows homeowners to take $1,500 tax credits each year through 2016 for up to 30 percent of qualifying projects. This includes geothermal heating systems, wind-powered homes and solar water heaters or panels [source: Hadhazy].
Another option at the federal level for homeowners looking to add green improvements is the FHA Energy Efficient Mortgage program. It allows homeowners to borrow money at very low rates to make EnergyStar upgrades, add solar or geothermal power, or make other specified green improvements to their homes [source: North Carolina State University].
To find a comprehensive list of green building incentives in your state, visit the Database for State Renewables and Efficiency. Many states offer property tax exemptions, free or expedited building permits and other benefits to homeowners who install green features.
If financial incentive isn't enough to motivate you to go green, consider this: In August 2008, the city of San Francisco enacted a new building code requiring every building (commercial and residential) new project or renovation to adhere to green building standards. For homeowners, this will mean meeting the GreenPoint system, a local green building certification program, similar to the USGBC'S LEED system [source: Buchanan].
A similar initiative is taking place in Montgomery County, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, D.C. Here, lawmakers are working to pass legislation that would require every new home be built to minimize environmental impact and energy use [source: Marimow].
These residential green laws follow on the heels of nearly a decade of similar laws aimed at the commercial sector. There are now 22 states, 2 federal agencies and 75 municipalities in the United States that require commercial buildings be built to meet LEED standards or certification [source: Kamenetz].
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- Buchanan, Wyatt. "Newsom Signs Strict Green Building Codes Into Law." San Francisco Chronicle. August 5, 2008. April 17, 2009.http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/08/04/BADQ1250K9.DTL
- Clemson University Home and Garden Information Center. "Conserving Water in Your Landscape." May 2006. April 17, 2009.http://www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic/plants/other/landscaping/hgic1724.html
- Eco-Smart. "It's Easy to be Green." 2008. April 17, 2009.http://www.ecosmartinc.com/ecoarchives.htm
- EnergyStar. "Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs." Date Unknown. April 17, 2009.http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=cfls.pr_cfls
- EnergyStar. "Programmable Thermostats." Date Unknown. April 17, 2009.http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=thermostats.pr_thermostats
- Gorman, Jim. "19 Ways to Slash Your Utility Bill." Popular Mechanics. November 2008. April 16, 2009.http://www.popularmechanics.com/home_journal/how_to/4288639.html?page=3
- Hadhazy, Adam. "How to Clean Up in 2009 with Tax Credits for the DIYer." Popular Mechanics. April 14, 2009. April 17, 2009.http://www.popularmechanics.com/home_journal/home_improvement/4313237.html
- Jacksonville Electric Association. "Attic Insulation Upgrade." February 20067. April 15, 2009.http://www.jea.com/about/pub/downloads/AtticInsulationUpgrade.pdf
- Kamenetz, Anya. "The Green Standard?" Fast Company. December 19, 2007. April 16, 2009.http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/119/the-green-standard.html
- Marimow, Ann E. "Montgomery Aims to Make Green Homes Mandatory." Washington Post. April 23, 2008. April 17, 2009.http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/04/22/AR2008042202839.html
- Myers, Matt. "EnergyStar Windows Will Protect Your Home." RealtyTrac. Date Unknown. April 16, 2009http://www.realtytrac.com/home-resources/doors-windows/articles/energy-star-windows-will-protect-your-home/163.html
- North Carolina State University Solar Center. "Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency." 2009. April 17, 2009http://www.dsireusa.org/library/includes/incentive2.cfm?Incentive_Code=US36F&State=federal¤tpageid=1&ee=1&re=1
- Perkins, Broderick. "Green Home Buyers Pay, Save More." Realty Times. April 5, 2007. April 17, 2009.http://realtytimes.com/rtpages/20070405_greenpaymore.htm
- Sekine-Pettite, Cory. "Green Building is Big Business." Masonry Magazine. November 2007. April 16, 2009.http://www.masonrymagazine.com/11-07/green.html
- U.S. Green Building Council. "16 Ways to Green Your Home." 2008. April 16, 2009http://www.usgbc.org/ShowFile.aspx?DocumentID=2121