Claiming the Incentives You Deserve

Aug. 25, 2003
Washington, D.C. – It has been said that a person creates his destiny one decision at a time. The same could be said about your building’s destiny, which is largely defined by its operating efficiency, profitability, and value.Every time you design a new building, approve plans for a tenant fit-out, replace energy- or water-consuming equipment that has failed, or negotiate lease clauses involving utility expenses, you are creating your building’s destiny. The average U.S. office building spends 29 percent of its operating expenses on utilities, according to BOMA International’s 2003 Experience Exchange Report. Clearly, utility-related decisions have a great impact on your building’s bottom line.Knowing about and taking advantage of rebates and other incentives is vital to making the best decisions when managing your utility expenses. According to RealWinWin Inc., the nation’s expert on rebates/incentives, more than $1 billion of “free money” is available each year to help improve the energy- and water-efficiency of U.S. buildings. Utilities, government agencies, non-profits, and other sources provide these dollars in an attempt to reduce demand on strained utility grids, the need to build more power plants, and atmospheric pollution caused by burning fossil fuels to create electricity.Surprisingly enough, much of this money remains unclaimed each year. Why? Many people don’t know the ins and outs of the programs, or are simply too busy to complete the steps necessary to capture this “free money.”Ideally, screening for rebates should be a “no-exceptions portfolio-wide best practice” for any of the following six activities:New construction.Renovation.Tenant fit-out.Energy- or water-efficiency retrofit.Emergency replacement of energy- or water-consuming equipment.Feasibility studies relating to improving energy- or water-efficiency.Many utilities offer cash incentives to building owners who incorporate premium energy-efficiency components when designing a new building. These subsidies might be paid to your architects and engineers to help fund a better building design. In other cases, financial incentives might pay the incremental cost of installing more efficient equipment.If you’re interested in getting all the “free money” you deserve, don’t limit yourself to typical energy retrofits. For example, a lobby or corridor renovation might include energy-efficient lighting that qualifies for rebates, even though the project was motivated by aesthetics, not energy-efficiency improvement. Similarly, a tenant fit-out that includes energy-efficient HVAC and lighting components might be eligible for incentives. Be sure to consider emergency replacements as well. Take the example of a failed 50-ton rooftop air-conditioning unit. You might qualify for a rebate, perhaps even retroactively.You might even qualify for money to help identify cost-effective utility-saving projects. Some utilities and governmental agencies help pay for these feasibility studies, while others provide the technical assistance themselves. Knowing about these incentives can help you focus on the most promising opportunities for improving your property’s bottom line.Finding and filing for all the “free money” you deserve is a vital part of a sound energy/water management program. In June 2003, BOMA International ( formed an alliance with RealWinWin ( to address this need. Philadelphia-based RealWinWin’s Financial Incentives National DatabaseTM (F.I.N.D.) is the most complete and up-to-date listing of rebates and other incentives in the United States and Canada. F.I.N.D. contains more than two dozen categories of incentives, including but not limited to the following: lighting, HVAC, motors, VFDs, controls, EMS, building envelope (e.g., windows, cool roofs, insulation), technical assistance (e.g., energy audits), financing, load curtailment, distributed generation (e.g., co-generation, renewable energy), refrigeration, cooking equipment, commissioning, and various categories of water conservation. RealWinWin performs all the steps necessary to capture these rebates and incentives.Reducing energy- and water-related operating expenses improves the competitiveness, profitability, and value of buildings. BOMA encourages you to take advantage of all the “free money” you deserve as you decide which projects to pursue and which equipment to install. Remember, a building’s destiny is created one decision at a time. The “free money” you find along the way will help you make the right decisions.For more information on BOMA’s alliance with RealWinWin, contact Karen Penafiel at (202) 326-6323 or via e-mail ( or Ron Christy at (215) 732-4480, extension 225 or via e-mail ([email protected]).

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