Consumers and business owners remain concerned about high energy costs and are in search of innovative and cost-effective tools and methods for improving energy performance. Roofing contractors have at their fingertips tools, legislation and educational opportunities that can make them well informed partners, and a knowledgeable roofing contractor can provide much-needed and wise counsel to building owners.
EnergyWise Roof CalculatorThe EnergyWise Roof Calculator is an interactive software application with an easy-to-use, graphical method for constructing roof assemblies that both evaluate thermal efficiency and estimate energy costs under normal operating conditions. Users enter specific information about a roof assembly, the region and the building, such as:
- Roof dimensions.
- Major penetration dimensions.
- Existing insulation if recovering.
- Type of deck.
- Building energy sources for heating and cooling.
EnergyWise poses several benefits. The program analyzes roof assembly configurations in a fraction of the time it would take to manually calculate the results for a single roof assembly configuration. It easily illustrates the potential to save building owners money in heating and cooling costs.
Many building owners do not recognize the magnitude of potential heating and cooling savings that are possible with effective insulation. EnergyWise can easily show the heating and cooling costs associated with various roof system designs (such as combinations of thermal insulation and roof surface reflectivity).
SpecRightIn February 2006, the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) unveiled SpecRight, an initiative to educate roofing professionals and end users about the role roof systems play in reducing energy costs and protecting the environment. The program stresses the importance of proper design, quality materials, proper installation and ongoing maintenance.
The program offers instruction on the EnergyWise Roof Calculator software and explains the various components of a cool roof. Other discussion topics include the latest trends in energy codes - including California's Title 24 and the Chicago Energy Code, ASHRAE 90.1, Leadership in Energy and Environmental DesignTM (LEED), energy codes and green roofing. Participants will earn 0.75 continuing education units for completing the one-day class.
SpecRight participants can become industry leaders and gain a competitive edge as they show customers how to save money by lowering their energy costs. (For more on SpecRight, see page 71.)
Energy Policy Act of 2005Last summer, President Bush signed into law the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which incorporates key provisions on energy-efficient commercial and residential buildings. The new legislation provides tax deductions for commercial construction that exceeds the minimum energy-efficient construction standards as required by ASHRAE 90.1, as well as tax credits for highly energy-efficient residential construction.
This legislation offers roofing contractors an opportunity to bring a positive economic message about upgrading the roof envelope to their customers. In the past, payback times were the primary economic incentive; now there is a "first-cost" incentive. Using the NRCA EnergyWise or other calculator and this new legislation, contractors can educate their customers about the new financial benefits of an upgraded, highly energy-efficient roof system.
Commercial BuildingsThe Energy Policy Act provides a new tax deduction for building owners that make improvements that reduce the energy and power costs of the building by 50 percent. More specifically, the tax deduction is equal to the cost of the energy efficiency improvements that are installed in a building, up to a limit of $1.80 per square foot. To qualify, the energy-efficient commercial building improvements must be installed as part of one or more of the following building systems: (1) interior lighting; (2) heating, cooling, ventilation and hot water; and (3) the building envelope. In addition, the property must be certified as being installed as part of a plan designed to reduce the energy and power costs of the building by 50 percent or more in comparison to the ASHRAE 90.1-2001 standard (as in effect on April 2, 2003). This includes Addenda b (mechanical equipment efficiency and the certification program for product performance verification), c (pressure-sensitive tape and duct seal levels), and e (minimum efficiency standards for single package vertical air-conditioners (SPVAC) and heat pumps (SPVHP)), but not Addendum g, which was adopted August 6, 2003, and put in place a significant improvement in lighting power densities. The current reflective roof provisions were part of the original 90.1-2001.
In the case where energy-efficiency improvements do not meet the overall 50 percent threshold, a partial deduction (of up to 60 cents per square foot) will be allowed with respect to each of the building systems - interior lighting; heating, cooling, ventilation and hot water; and building envelope. It is not clear what the targets will be; however, to qualify, the improvements must equal or exceed system-specific savings targets that are to be established by the Secretary of the Treasury.
Another issue involving the partial deduction relates to improvements to two systems. In this scenario, it will be possible for building owners to obtain a $1.20 deduction per square foot for upgrading two building systems, such as the HVAC and the envelope. As with the individual building system upgrades, to qualify, the improvements must equal or exceed system-specific savings targets that are to be established by the Secretary of the Treasury.
While there are still some unknowns about the savings targets, the law does specify a need and guidelines for calculating the energy savings and for obtaining certification of the energy savings. Software used to calculate energy savings is to be based on the 2005 California Nonresidential Alternative Calculation Method Approval Manual (www.ener gy.ca.gov/title24/2005standards/nonresi dential_acm/). This manual outlines the requirements for those individuals or companies that want to design a calculation computer program for use with the energy standards. In addition, the new law notes that procedures for inspection and testing by qualified individuals to ensure compliance of buildings with energy-savings plans and targets will be defined.
Public BuildingsPublic buildings such as schools and other government owned buildings may also be eligible for a deduction. In this case, the deduction may be allocated or transferred to the person primarily responsible for designing the property in lieu of the owner. In addition to this federal legislation, many states are enacting laws requiring LEED certification for state-owned buildings including California, North Carolina, Maine, Oregon and Washington.
The deduction is effective for property placed in service from Jan. 1, 2006, through Dec. 31, 2007.
New Energy-Efficient HomesThe bill offers a new tax credit for energy-efficient improvements installed in qualified new energy-efficient homes during construction. A credit of $2,000 is available for site-built homes certified to have a level of annual heating and cooling energy consumption that is at least 50 percent below a comparable home constructed in accordance with the standards of the 2004 Supplement to the 2003 International Energy Conservation Code.
Manufactured homes are eligible for the $2,000 credit in the case of a 50 percent efficiency improvement and a $1,000 credit for either a 30 percent improvement or compliance with the Energy Star criteria for manufactured homes.
Of interest to roofing contractors are specifics pertaining to the building envelope. With respect to manufactured homes that meet the 30 percent standard, one-third of the 30 percent savings must come from the building envelope, and with respect to homes and manufactured homes that meet the 50 percent standard, one-fifth of the 50 percent savings must come from the building envelope.
According to the Internal Revenue Service, the tax deductions are effective for property placed in service from Jan. 1, 2006, through Dec. 31, 2007. The credit is available for all new homes, including manufactured homes constructed in accordance with the Federal Manufactured Homes Construction and Safety Standards. Under the new provision, the home qualifies for the credit if:
- It is located in the United States.
- Its construction is substantially completed after Aug. 8, 2005.
- It meets the statutory energy-saving requirements.
- It is acquired from the eligible contractor after Dec. 31, 2005, and before Jan. 1, 2008, for use as a residence.