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Chipotle to Seek LEED Certification for Two Sites

BY CSA STAFF

(Oct.13) Chipotle Mexican Grill will seek LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for its restaurant in Gurnee, Ill.

The location includes a six-kilowatt wind turbine that is expected to generate approximately 10% of the site’s electricity.

Other environmentally friendly attributes of the new restaurant include a 2,500-gallon underground water cistern to harvest rainwater for landscape irrigation, LED lighting, water-saving faucets and toilets, ENERGY STAR-rated kitchen equipment and landscaping with native plants. Also featured: parking-lot asphalt that is expected to reflect the sun’s heat instead of absorbing it, use of recycled material in building, and use of surface coatings that contain fewer chemicals.

In addition, Chipotle plans to seek LEED status for a restaurant that will be part of an existing shopping center in Minnetonka, Minn.

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New Federal Tax Incentives for Geothermal Systems

BY CSA STAFF

(Oct. 8) Commercial (and residential) building owners who install geothermal heating and cooling systems are now eligible for federal-tax incentives under the Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008, passed by Congress on Oct. 3 as part of the economic recovery package.

The Energy Improvement and Extension Act offers a one-time tax credit of 30% of the total investment for residential ground loop or ground water geothermal heat-pump installations, with a maximum credit of $2,000 for a single residence. The legislation also provides a credit of 10% of the total investment, with no maximum credit, for commercial system installations.

“We believe this incentive will encourage many more homeowners and business owners to install geothermal heat pumps,” said Tim Shields, chairman, WaterFurnace International, a leading manufacturer of residential, commercial, industrial and institutional geothermal and water-source heat pumps. “Geothermal heat pumps are made right here in the United States and the machines used to put the renewable heat exchangers in the earth are all made right here. This is truly a homegrown solution to the energy crisis and a very good way to address the financial crisis at the same time.”

The tax credit for commercial buildings begins with systems installed after Oct. 3. Owners can file for the credit by completing the Renewable Energy Credits subsection on their 2008 tax-return forms. No proof of purchase is required. However, in case of an audit, owners are encouraged to keep a detailed invoice of their purchase on file.

Geothermal systems tap the free, renewable supply of solar energy stored just a few feet below the Earth’s surface, and use that energy to drive heating and cooling systems in both commercial and residential buildings, according to WaterFurnace. In addition to utility, state and now federal tax incentives that enhance the affordability of geothermal systems, this cost-effective, environmentally friendly technology offers a host of benefits, according to WaterFurnace, including:

  • Free, renewable supply of solar energy;
  • Efficiency ratings up to five-times higher than those of ordinary heating and cooling systems;
  • Savings on utility bills up to 70%;
  • Reduced carbon footprint since the system burns no fossil fuels;
  • More even distribution of heating and cooling for improved comfort;
  •  Improved indoor air quality;
  • Quiet operation with no noisy outdoor units to disturb the environment or neighbors;
  • Safe operation that requires no open flame or fuel storage tanks;
  • Less maintenance; and
  • Increased system longevity (an average life span of 24 years vs. 15 years for conventional air conditioners and 20 years for fossil-fuel furnaces).

To learn more about the new federal tax credits, visit http://www.thomas.loc.gov or contact your local tax professional.

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Gap Solar Power at Fresno DC Goes Online

BY CSA STAFF

(Oct. 7) Gap Inc. unveiled a one-megawatt (MW) solar-power system at its West Coast distribution center campus in Fresno, Calif. The installation, undertaken with MMA Renewable Ventures, Baltimore, and SunPower Corp., San Jose, Calif., is one of the largest in Northern California. It features a ground-mounted solar-tracking system on a five-acre site, and is expected to offset 2.5 million lbs. of greenhouse gases annually.

“We are very excited this solar-power system is now online,” said Kindley Walsh Lawlor, senior director of strategic planning and environmental affairs for Gap Inc. “We made the commitment to host this solar system nearly 15 months ago and are proud to support the clean energy it generates.

MMA, which owns and operates the system, joined with Gap to develop an innovative partnership that leverages tax credits and incentives to finance the system. The arrangement enables Gap to buy the power generated from the system through a long-term contract, or a power-purchase agreement (PPA), eliminating the need for a major capital investment. MMA owns the renewable energy credits and environmental attributes associated with the system.

“By securing power through a power-purchase agreement, Gap will benefit from cost savings from the system’s first day of operation and for years to come, said Matt Cheney, CEO, MMA Renewable Ventures.

The array was designed and installed by SunPower. It utilizes the company’s Tracker system, which follows the sun’s movement during the day, increasing sunlight capture by up to 25%, compared to conventional fixed-tilt systems, while also significantly reducing land-use requirements.

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