Blog written by Findorff’s Sustainability Lead Ben Austin, LEED® AP BD+C, WELL AP, Fitwel Ambassador
Today is Earth Day! At Findorff, this day reminds us of how sustainability is a driving factor in what we do. We strategically look at sustainability to offer innovative solutions and a holistic approach in construction. Ranging from assessing environmental impacts to how we do business, these efforts make meaningful differences where we all live, work, and play.
In staying true to such objectives, Findorff recently hosted its first Sustainability Forum. We brought together a diverse audience of building owners, developers, architects, engineers, facility managers, and others. Perspectives were shared on how sustainability can positively impact business and budget. As the event's moderator aside panelists from RENEW Wisconsin, Focus on Energy, PACE Wisconsin, and Kohler, we highlighted trends, programs, and successful projects happening right here in Wisconsin. A few takeaways from the Forum included:
- Solar Energy for Business: Installed solar costs are down 35 percent since 2014 and 64 percent since 2010. As the solar industry continues to grow, costs continue to be driven down. Half of the initial cost of installing solar can be offset when tax credits, incentives, and accelerated depreciation are factored in. A special note should be made that there is a 30 percent federal tax credit for solar, but it begins to decrease starting next year, ending up at 10 percent by 2022. What this suggests is that now is a good time to look at solar!
- Incentives for Energy Efficiency Projects: Focus on Energy's incentive programs apply to both new construction and renovation projects. Renewable energy incentives are available, as well as energy efficiency measures for HVAC systems, lighting, envelope, plumbing, and retrocommmissioning. A single owner can obtain a maximum of $500,000 annually in incentives through this program. If you are doing any efficiency upgrades, make sure to look at Focus on Energy's programs! In 2018 alone, over $4.5 million was paid back to owners through their programs in Wisconsin.
- Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Financing: Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Financing is a commercial financing program for renewable energy, energy efficiency, and water conservation. PACE is available in many counties around Wisconsin and can provide fixed-rate, long-term financing (20-30 years) for up to 100 percent of eligible project costs. Interested to see if your county participates? Check out PACE's website to learn more: pacewi.org
- Sustainability Strategy: There are organizations around the state that are proving that sustainability is good for business and budget. Looking at a sustainability strategy holistically allows organizations to have a culture of sustainability that can lead to cost savings on energy bills. It can also create engagement with employees, plus drive employee attraction and retention. Kohler is doing this well. Check out what its sustainability team is up to here: kohlercompany.com/sustainability
Looking forward, I would like to present a challenge to each one of you: How will the information presented change how you approach your buildings for the rest of 2019?There are a variety of financial resources available and ready for your existing building operations, renovations, and new construction. Do not hesitate to utilize them! Let's push each other to collectively move the needle on Sustainability. As subject matter experts we look forward to continuing the conversation and looking for additional ways to implement sustainability in all buildings!