The County was among the first jurisdictions in the US to adopt a mandatory green building law for private real estate and has been one of the most environmentally progressive jurisdictions in the United States. The green building tax program has awarded more than $33.4 million in tax credits since its inception in 2008. Bill 10-20, sponsored by Councilmembers Hans Riemer and Andrew Friedson and co-sponsored by Council President Sidney Katz, prioritizes energy reduction in new and existing commercial and multifamily buildings and ensures incentives are given only for buildings that surpass requirements of the County’s building code. The legislation is based on the recommendations of a working group made up of stakeholders including County government, climate groups and the local real estate sector.
Shamir Ghumra, BREEAM Director, said:
“Though BREEAM certification has been alluded to as an equivalent rating system certification accepted by municipal and regional government green building certifications, Montgomery County is the first to explicitly mention BREEAM in the US. We’re excited to see future municipal and regional governments allow for further flexibility for building certifications where BREEAM can meet an asset’s needs.”
The bill creates a new two-tier structure for the credit. The first tier ties the amount of the credit to the energy reduction level relative to the existing building code. The higher the energy reduction level, the higher the credit. The second tier assigns a bonus credit, if the buildings also meet the highest levels of the green building certifications recognized in the legislation or equivalent standards as accepted by the County.
For existing buildings, this means building owners are eligible for additional credits if they achieve an Excellent or Outstanding rating under BREEAM In-Use. The bill sets a two-year limit on the credit for existing buildings and maintains a cap of $5 million annually.
For new construction, building owners would be eligible for an additional credit of 25% of the property tax due over 4 years if an Excellent rating was achieved under BREEAM New Construction and 75% if an Outstanding rating was achieved. Unlike the existing buildings policy, the county placed no cap on the new building’s credit, meaning there is no limit on the number of new construction projects which can qualify for tax credits.
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