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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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Regency Centers Selected by Department of Energy to Pilot Energy-Saving Technologies

BY CSA STAFF

Regency Centers has been selected to participate in the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Net-Zero Energy Commercial Building Initiative (CBI) as a National Account. The project is designed to improve the energy efficiency of commercial buildings.

Mark Peternell, Regency Centers VP of sustainability, said the company was chosen among 21 companies in retail, finance and commercial real estate to team with two of DOE’s National Laboratories to speed market adoption of current energy-saving technologies and produce buildings with significant and measurable energy savings.

Several of the largest national retailers, and key tenants in Regency Centers’ shopping centers, were also among the 21 companies announced to take part in DOE’s National Accounts program, including Target, Best Buy, J.C. Penney and Whole Foods Market.

“We are honored to be working with DOE-program partners in developing cutting-edge energy-efficiency technologies and on-site renewable-energy generation,” said Peternell. “We hope to help shape sustainability practices in our industry and define cost-effective solutions to accelerate the adoption of energy-efficient retail buildings. Partnering with the DOE through their National Accounts program is the right thing to do and it will provide a measurable benefit to our retail partners in the form of lower electricity bills.”

According to Peternell, Regency Centers formally announced its plans to incorporate sustainable elements into its new developments, operating properties and corporate operations in 2007. Since then, the company has started a variety of programs designed to mitigate, where practicable, Regency’s impact on the environment.

In addition to participating in this DOE initiative, Regency Centers has selected the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification as a nationally recognized third-party sustainability benchmarking program. Regency’s corporate initiative includes a commitment to LEED-certify a minimum of 20% of 2008 development starts, 40% of 2009’s starts and 60% of 2010 development starts.

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