Under current law, building owners may qualify for a tax deduction of up to $1.80 per square foot for energy efficient upgrades that achieve a 50 percent reduction in annual energy cost to the user, compared to a base building defined by the ASHRAE/IESNA 90.1–2001 Standard. Partial credit is also available for the three major subsystems of the building (lighting, envelope and HVAC and hot water systems). BOMA International lobbied hard for this tax incentive but in practice the bar has been set so high that it is extremely difficult to achieve, especially for existing buildings.
In February, President Obama announced his Better Buildings Initiative and one of the major planks of this effort was to call on Congress to modify Section 179D. The May 5 letter to key Senate leaders includes ideas for restructuring the deduction to make it more useful and beneficial to the commercial real estate industry, and in turn, promote energy efficiency retrofits.