Better Buildings Initiative could mean the end of the commercial construction downturn, NGA officials say

Glass Magazine
February 4, 2011
COMMERCIAL, RETAIL, FABRICATION : TRENDS & ANALYSIS

Officials of the National Glass Association, McLean, Va., issued a release, Feb. 4, welcoming President Obama's Better Buildings Initiative. Association officials believe that the proposed incentives, designed to spur a 20 percent improvement in commercial building energy efficiency by 2020, are an important step toward addressing the current downturn in the construction industry, according to the release.

The initiative calls for significant reform of current tax incentives for commercial building retrofits and will help spur the private sector into making cost-effective, energy-efficient upgrades that will reduce the nation's energy bills by as much as $40 billion per year. The NGA specifically praised the proposal's plan to convert a key energy efficiency tax deduction of $1.80 per square foot (known as 179 D) to a tax credit. The change would effectively double or triple its bottom-line impact, providing a much-needed boost to the glass and glazing industry.

"While we are always mindful that the devil is in the details, we believe passage of the energy efficiency tax credit provision in the President's Better Buildings Initiative could hasten a resurgence of commercial construction," said Phil James, NGA president and CEO, in the release.

James noted that while the shift of the 179 D tax deduction to a tax credit is an important step, the credit should also be made transferable to achieve its full, desired impact. Because roughly half of all commerical real estate loans are now underwater, the credits will help lower the overall cost of borrowing, which will stimulate growth in our industry.

"We applaud the administration's focus on tax incentives rather than regulatory mandates," James said in the relesae. He expressed optimism about the provision's chance of passage since the tax credit language is included in the massive budget bill the President is sending to Congress.

For more information on the glass industry's energy-efficiency initiatives, stay tuned to GlassMagazine.com and  www.glass.org.