US Economic Recovery: The Secret to Recovery is a Green Tax Policy

At a time when job creation and environmental policy are at the forefront of political discourse, there is a perfect example of successful bi-partisan efforts to advance the American energy economy: the Energy Efficient Commercial Buildings Tax Deduction under the Energy Policy Act legislation. Unfortunately, this policy is set to expire in 2013. If the legislation does not get renewed, it may signal the fulfillment of Mayan 2012 end-of-world prophecy – okay maybe not quite that dire, but it will definitely be a huge step back from the kind of smart tax policy which produces real results.

The Energy Policy Act (EPAct) is a bill that was passed by Congress and George W. Bush in 2005. Under the EPAct §179D tax deduction, commercial building owners receive a tax deduction for investments in energy efficiency infrastructure, including HVAC, lighting, and building envelope upgrades. At present, the EPAct §179D legislation offers a tax deduction of up to $1.80/sq. ft. Under the new proposal, this credit would be expanded to $3/sq. ft. until December 2016, with non-profits being able to assign credit to third parties for their building renovations. With over $130 billion of energy savings going unrealized every year, and with the U.S. falling behind many of our competitors – Germany, UK, France, China, and Japan – in the business of energy efficiency, renewing this legislation could not be more vital to American environmental and economic growth.   



At Sustainable Industrial Solutions (SIS), we have witnessed the vital role that collaboration between public and private sectors, and between Democrats and Republicans, plays in ensuring American job creation, technological advancement, and environmental sustainability. Founded by a mix of entrepreneurs, who span political philosophies from the left to the right, SIS helps American businesses and manufacturing companies become more energy efficient. Our investments focus on a structured paid-from-savings model, feature quick payback periods for efficiency upgrades, and use future savings to fund more holistic sustainability efforts, including solar and other renewable options. In spite of the recession, business is booming because efficiency upgrades don’t just help the environment – they help businesses lower operating costs and increase their competitiveness.

Going green creates jobs that earn Americans green, hard cash. According to the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, $1 million spent in the natural gas or coal industries yields less than 10 jobs per investment. By comparison, building retrofits, like those incentivized by the EPAct §179D tax deduction, yield on average 17 jobs per $1 million investment. At SIS, we have experienced this job growth firsthand. When we launched, we were a three-person operation. At present, we have grown to a team of six full-time and five part-time staff.

Today, I was sitting in coffee shop in lower Manhattan, which only a few weeks ago was powerless and unusable thanks to the Sandy-apocalypse. Mayan end-of-world prophecies and global warming aside, there is one reality that is hard to ignore – the American economy cannot prosper without a strong, vibrant business sector, and our businesses need smart, efficient tax policies to help them thrive. The EPAct §179D legislation is a perfect example of a tax policy that has a direct impact on American economic growth. It would be a huge setback to American economic and environmental growth to not renew and expand it.

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Jenn Halweil

Jenn Halweil is an entrepreneur at heart with a passion for supporting sustainable, socially conscious, business development. In fall of her junior year, after treking around the world as part of Semester at Sea, Jenn returned home to found her first company: Legacy Event Planners. Now entering it's 3rd successful year as a community organizing non-profit, Jenn has transitioned to the Board freeing up more of her time to focus on helping other businesses grow, and championing several environmental and social causes through freelance writing. In her spare time, Jenn can be found dancing in salsa clubs, jamming to electronic music, or practicing her british and french accents.

MORE FROM

Marchers arrested in Istanbul as Pride parade continues despite cancellation

The organizers' decision to move forward with the previously cancelled march led to clashes with police.

Car slams into Eid celebrants in UK, injuring 6; police say terrorism isn't suspected

Police say they believe an Eid celebrant was behind the wheel of the car that injured six outside a mosque.

Oil truck explodes in Pakistan, killing at least 153

The deadly fire broke out as residents rushed to collect the leaking oil from the overturned tanker.

Will Justice Anthony Kennedy retire at end of Supreme Court term? Here's what we know.

Rumors that the 80-year-old swing justice may leave the bench are fueling fear of a second Trump pick on the nation's high court.

3 states and D.C. allow same flammable building materials behind Grenfell Tower fire

The causes of London's Grenfell Tower are similar to the justifications used to waive fire regulations in the U.S.

New Jersey bill would require kids to be taught how to interact with police

Students from kindergarten through 12th grade would receive the education.

Marchers arrested in Istanbul as Pride parade continues despite cancellation

The organizers' decision to move forward with the previously cancelled march led to clashes with police.

Car slams into Eid celebrants in UK, injuring 6; police say terrorism isn't suspected

Police say they believe an Eid celebrant was behind the wheel of the car that injured six outside a mosque.

Oil truck explodes in Pakistan, killing at least 153

The deadly fire broke out as residents rushed to collect the leaking oil from the overturned tanker.

Will Justice Anthony Kennedy retire at end of Supreme Court term? Here's what we know.

Rumors that the 80-year-old swing justice may leave the bench are fueling fear of a second Trump pick on the nation's high court.

3 states and D.C. allow same flammable building materials behind Grenfell Tower fire

The causes of London's Grenfell Tower are similar to the justifications used to waive fire regulations in the U.S.

New Jersey bill would require kids to be taught how to interact with police

Students from kindergarten through 12th grade would receive the education.