Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

New Research Facility to Test Home Energy Improvements

Friday, January 14th, 2011

COCOA, Jan. 14, 2011 – Recognizing the need for statewide energy efficiency, UCF’s Florida Solar Energy Center celebrates the completion of its newest research facility for testing energy improvements in new and existing homes. A ribbon-cutting ceremony for this endeavor was held today on UCF’s Cocoa campus.

Initial research at the Flexible Residential Test Facility will focus on energy improvement potentials in vintage Florida homes. Those constructed prior to 1975 make up 63 percent of Florida’s more than eight million existing homes, which represents a substantial energy and cost savings potential for cost-effective, “deep” home energy improvements, or retrofits. Prospective savings could result in 30 to 50 percent of current residential energy use.

Funded by the state’s Florida Energy Systems Consortium, the research facility was instrumental in attracting a major multi-million dollar, four-year research grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

Ribbon cutting of Flexible Residential Test Facility

Cutting the ribbon at the opening of the Flexible Residential Test Facility are (left to right) Robin Vieira, Director, Buildings Research at Florida Solar Energy Center; David Lee, U.S. Department of Energy’s Director of Residential Building Programs; James Fenton, Director, Florida Solar Energy Center.

“As we address greenhouse gas emissions, we have to look at retrofitting existing homes. This facility will be instrumental in researching the impacts of home energy efficiency improvements in hot climates,” said Mr. David Lee, U.S. Department of Energy’s Director of Residential Building Programs.

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NYC Mayor Bloomberg Visits FSEC

Friday, July 4th, 2008

NYC Mayor Bloomberg Visits FSEC

The Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) welcomed the Mayor of the City of New York, Michael Bloomberg, and First Deputy Mayor Patricia Harris for a tour of the facility on Friday, June 20, 2008. Mayor Bloomberg expressed an interest in learning about FSEC’s role in the research and development of large-scale photovoltaic (PV) systems and hydrogen fuel cells, as well as recent breakthroughs related to “green,” energy-efficient building practices.

The mayors’ tour took them through some of FSEC’s laboratories, including the Manufactured Housing Lab, FSEC’s 1,600 square-foot manufactured home that serves as a training center and building science laboratory. They also stopped at the PV testing lab and the thin film PV lab, where researchers are developing the next generation of high-efficiency PV cells, as well as the hydrogen and fuel cell lab.

Photo of NYC Mayor Bloomberg, Deputy Mayor Patricia Harris, and Michael Hopper, Director of Advance Operations
Mayor of the City of New York, Michael Bloomberg (left), First Deputy Mayor, Patricia Harris, and Director of Advanced Operations, Michael Hopper, listen as FSEC Senior Research Scientist, Clovis Linkous, explains how a fuel cell works and points out the challenges this technology faces as an alternative fuel for transportation.Photo: Nicholas Waters

As the mayors walked through the PV testing areas, they learned about FSEC’s testing techniques and requirements. A PV roof-top system, used during FSEC’s PV installer courses, was used to demonstrate how a properly installed PV system operates and show how students in the installer course verify a system has been installed correctly. In the thin film PV lab, researchers spoke with the mayors about the different types of PV cells and the work being performed at FSEC to increase the efficiency of thin film PV cells while lowering their price. In the hydrogen labs, researchers explained the physics behind hydrogen fuel cells and demonstrated FSEC’s patented hydrogen-detection sensor, Smart Paint.

Mayor Bloomberg is the 108th Mayor of the City of New York. Elected to office only two months after the 9/11 attacks in 2001, he helped the city to rebound faster and stronger than anyone expected. He has recently undertaken a campaign to fight global warming while preparing New York for an estimated million more residents by 2030, through the efficient use of land, water and energy.

FSEC Researcher Selected to Advisory Board for Partners in Sustainable Building

Monday, June 9th, 2008
Photo of Janet McIlvaine
Janet McIlvaine

Janet McIlvaine, a research analyst for the Florida Solar Energy Center’s (FSEC) buildings division, was selected to be an advisory member for Habitat for Humanity International and The Home Depot Foundation’s new national green building initiative, Partners in Sustainable Building. This program will provide funding and resources to assist in making at least 5,000 homes built by Habitat affiliates more energy efficient and sustainable according to nationally recognized green building standards.

McIlvaine is part of a team of sustainable building experts, providing technical assistance, general advice and feedback during the Partners in Sustainable Building program’s pilot phase, which began in May. She will also participate in the nationwide training effort when the program is officially launched in 2009.

Over the next five years, the Partners in Sustainable Building program will provide cash incentives to Habitat affiliates throughout the United States for improving their construction specifications and techniques to help qualify new homes for ENERGY STAR status, which requires homes to be at least 15 percent more efficient than standard, built-to-code homes. Funds and resources provided through this program will help Habitat affiliates expand their use of energy-efficient equipment, install more water-conserving fixtures and ensure good indoor air quality. These homes will be more durable and energy efficient, which will make them more affordable for the homeowners.

Through funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Building America program, FSEC has built a rich partnership with Habitat for Humanity that has spanned more than a decade and reaches every corner of the nation. “FSEC is delighted and honored to have Janet bring her experience to the development of this new, timely program,” said Subrato Chandra, FSEC’s project director for the DOE-sponsored Building America Industrialized Housing Partnership. “She has spearheaded FSEC’s involvement with Habitat for Humanity for more than 10 years, making her an ideal representative who can provide an extensive knowledgebase for this program.”

About The Home Depot Foundation

The Home Depot Foundation was created in 2002 to further the community building goals of The Home Depot. The Home Depot Foundation is dedicated to building homes for working families that are healthy to live in and affordable to own. Through the incorporation of responsible design, homes built with durable and quality materials are more energy and water efficient, have good indoor air quality, and are overall a safe and healthy space to live. Since its formation, The Home Depot Foundation has granted $70 million to nonprofit organizations and supported the development of more than 50,000 affordable, healthy homes.

About Habitat for Humanity International

Habitat for Humanity International is an ecumenical Christian ministry that welcomes to its work all people dedicated to the cause of eliminating poverty housing. Since its founding in 1976, Habitat has built more than 250,000 houses worldwide, providing simple, decent and affordable shelter for more than 1 million people.

Florida Solar Energy Center Accepting Applications for 2007 Energy Awards

Thursday, September 27th, 2007

The Florida Solar Energy Center at the University of Central Florida is accepting applications for the 2007 Florida Energy Achievement Award and the new Florida Utility Energy Achievement Award. The two awards recognize significant achievements in the efficient utilization of energy, energy conservation, energy education or renewable energy in facilities or programs.

A Florida utility and a Florida company, organization or individual that demonstrate statewide leadership and significant accomplishments in sustainability and energy savings will be honored this year. Sarasota County Government received the first Florida Energy Achievement Award, presented in 2005. Last year’s recipient was Walt Disney World, with its “Strive for Five” energy reduction program. (more…)

EPAct2005: Tax Credit Opportunities for Solar and Energy Efficiency

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct 2005) is the first effort of the United States government to address U.S. energy policy since the Energy Policy Act of 1992. Among many other things, the 1724 page law provides new tax incentives for a number of solar and energy efficiency measures. Among them are:

The complete conference bill for the Energy Policy Act may be downloaded here (2.5 MB PDF file). The solar and energy efficiency provisions are found in Title XIII, Subtitle C, beginning on page 1332 page 1390 of the act.

PLEASE NOTE : The effective dates given in this Web site are based on current law and in general everything placed in service through 12/31/08 qualifies for the federal tax incentives. There is legislation being considered in U.S. congress that may extend these dates.

An Important Distinction

There is an important difference between a tax deduction and a tax credit. A tax deduction is subtracted from income before total tax liability is computed. On the other hand, a tax credit is subtracted directly from the total tax liability. This means that a deduction and a credit have very different values, with a credit being 3 or more times more advantageous to the taxpayer than a deduction. For example, a tax credit of $1,000 for someone in the 28% tax bracket is equivalent to a tax deduction of $3,571

Combined Incentives

In many cases, multiple tax incentives may be claimed. In the case of a new home for example, the builder may claim credit the high efficiency home and the homeowner may claim tax credits for solar hot water and photovoltaic and fuel cell systems. Other financial incentives, such as utility or SunBuilt rebates, further reduce the cost of building or owning a solar and energy efficient home.

Solar Photovoltaic and Hot Water Systems

This provision offers tax credits to individuals for residential solar energy systems.

  • For solar hot water systems, the allowable tax credit is 30% of the qualified solar system expenditures up to a maximum tax credit limitation of $2,000.
  • For solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, the allowable tax credit is 30% of the qualified PV system expenditures up to a maximum tax credit limitation of $2,000.

To be eligible for the solar hot water system tax credit, the system must be certified by the Solar Rating and Certification Corporation (SRCC) or the Florida Solar Energy Center (in the case of systems sold in Florida) and half of the energy used by the system must be derived from the sun.
There is no qualification provided for PV systems (except in Florida, where systems must be rated and certified by the Florida Solar Energy Center). Individuals may claim tax credits for either or both types of solar systems.

The incentives apply to equipment placed in service during 2006 through December 31, 2008. The IRS form to claim the credit is available at http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f5695.pdf [331K]. Note that this is for non-business use of your home.

In addition, the provisions of the bill substantially increases the business investment tax credit from 10% to 30%. This tax credit is available to businesses that purchase solar thermal and PV systems during calendar years 2006 – 2008. In Florida, such systems would be subject to the requirement that solar systems manufactured or sold in the state be certified by the Florida Solar Energy Center. This business investment tax credit for solar equipment does not have a maximum credit limit.

IRS rules for qualification of this tax credit may be found in IRS Notice 2006-26.

Additional information on solar systems that my qualify for these tax credits may be found at the following Web sites:

Solar hot water systems
Photovoltaic (PV) systems

Commercial Buildings

This provision offers business taxpayers a deduction of $1.80 per square foot for commercial buildings that achieve a 50% reduction in annual energy cost to the user, compared to a base building defined by the industry standard ASHRAE/IESNA 90.1-2001. Energy costs refer only to heating, cooling, lighting and water heating, since only these uses are within the scope of the ASHRAE standard and within the control of the building designer.

Each of the three energy-using systems of the building — the envelope, the heating, cooling and water heating system, and lighting system — is eligible for one third of the incentive if it meets its share of the whole-building savings goal. Explicit interim compliance procedures are provided for lighting.

Eligible buildings include commercial buildings such as: offices, retail buildings, warehouses, etc., rental housing of four stories or more, and publicly-owned buildings. For publicly-owned buildings, there is an interesting provision allowing the credit to pass through to the "person primarily responsible for designing the building."

New construction in an existing building is also eligible for the tax deduction, with one third of the deduction amount for new construction that affects the new energy-using system (such as lighting or heating, cooling and water heating).

Compliance is determined by third party inspectors who review the plans and the actual in-place construction. Energy savings are determined by software that must be certified by the Department of Energy as meeting criteria of consistency and accuracy, following the successful experience of California’s performance-based energy code enforcement.

The incentives apply to buildings or systems placed in service during 2006-2008, although extenders increasing the eligibility through 2009 or 2010 are a distinct possibility. (see colloquia)

IRS rules for qualification of this tax credit may be found in IRS Notice 2006-52.

New Homes

This provision offers homebuilders a tax credit of $2,000 for homes that reduce energy use for heating and cooling only (not hot water) by 50% compared to the national model code — the 2004 IECC Supplement (assuming an SEER-13 air conditioner). Producers of manufactured homes can also choose to qualify for a tax credit of $1,000 for homes that save 30%. This $1,000 credit for reaching 30% savings is not available for site built homes, which must reach the 50% savings tier to qualify for the $2,000 credit. The form to claim the credit is available at http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f8908.pdf [212K].

Eligible homes must demonstrate savings using software that has been approved by IRS (see below) and builders must demonstrate compliance by the use of third-party inspectors certified according to IRS rules. Similar standards exist in Florida and elsewhere under the auspices of Florida’s Building Energy Rating System and under the national standards of the national Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET). Additionally, the Florida Solar Energy Center has released a free 15-day trial version of IRS accredited software that makes the calculations that are expected to be used for tax credit qualification. To download this free 15-day trial software click here.

The incentives apply to homes placed in service during 2006 through December 31, 2008.

IRS rules on qualification for new site-built home credit may be found in IRS Notice 2006-27.

IRS rules on qualification for manufactured home credit may be found in IRS Notice 2006-28.

Existing Homes

These provisions offer cost-based incentives of 10% of the amount expended by the taxpayer for "Qualified Energy Efficiency Improvements" and up to $300 for "Qualified Energy Property" up to a maximum credit limit of $500.

"Qualified Energy Efficiency Improvements" are specifically defined as:

  • Any insulation material or system specifically designed to reduce heat loss or gain
  • Exterior windows (including skylights)
  • Exterior doors
  • Any metal roof having pigmented coatings specifically designed to reduce heat gain which meet Energy Star program requirements.

"Qualified Energy Property" is defined as:

  • Electric heat pump water heater with EF of 2.0 or greater
  • Electric air source heat pumps with HSPF of 9.0 or greater
  • Geothermal heat pumps:
    • Closed loop products with EER of 16.2 and COP of 3.3 or greater
    • Open loop products with EER of 14.1 and COP of 3.3 or greater
    • Direct expansion (DX) products with EER of 15 and COP of 3.5 or greater
  • Central air conditioner that receives the highest efficiency tier established by the Consortium of Energy Efficiency as of January 1, 2006(http://www.cee1.org/resid/rs-ac/res-ac_specs.pdf).
  • Natural gas, propane or oil water heater with EF or 0.80 or greater
  • Natural gas, propane or oil furnace or hot water boiler with AFUE of
    95% or greater
  • Advanced main air circulating fan used in natural gas, propane or oil furnace that uses no more than 2% of the total annual energy use of the furnace.

Credit limitations on qualified energy property are as follows:

  • $50 for any advanced main air circulating fan
  • $150 for any qualified natural gas, propane, or oil furnace or hot water boiler
  • $300 for any item of qualified energy property.

IRS rules for qualification of this tax credit may be found in IRS Notice 2006-26.

Residential Fuel Cells

This provision offers cost-based 30% tax credits to individuals for qualified residential fuel cell property expenditures up to a maximum credit limitation of $500 for each 500 watts installed capacity.

IRS rules for qualification of this tax credit may be found in IRS Notice 2006-26.

Fuel Cells and Microturbines Used in a Business

This provision offers tax credits for fuel cells and microturbines used in a business. To qualify for the credit, fuel cells are required to be 500 watt capacity or greater with a generation efficiency of 30% or greater. Microturbines are required to be of 2,000 kilowatt capacity or less with an efficiency of 26% at International Standards Organization conditions. Tax credits and limitations are as follows:

  • For fuel cells, a tax credit of 30% of the expenditure up to a maximum of $500 per 500 watts of capacity.
  • For microturbines, a tax credit of 10% of the expenditure with a credit limitation of $200/kW.

IRS rules for qualification of this tax credit may be found in IRS Notice 2006-26.

Colloquia

The efficiency provisions were taken from a bill by Senators Snowe and Feinstein (S. 680) that offered performance-based incentives for new and existing homes and commercial buildings and for building-based solar energy. These incentives lasted until 2009 and 2010 in most cases. In recognition of the fact that incentives longer than two years are needed to transform markets, the legislative history of the Energy Bill will contain the following colloquy between Senator Snowe and Finance Committee Chair Grassley:

Colloquy with Senator Snowe and Senator Grassley
RE: Tax Incentives for Commercial Buildings

Ms Snowe:
Mr. Chairman, I want to thank you for your dedicated work in defending the Senate-passed Energy bill language in conference, particularly concerning the energy efficiency tax incentives. For the first time, there will be energy efficiency tax incentives for commercial buildings for each of the three energy-using systems of the building—the envelope, the heating, cooling and water heating system, and lighting. Each is eligible for one third of the $1.80 per square foot tax incentive if it meets its share of the whole-building savings goal. This will apply to buildings that cut energy use by 50 percent, an ambitious but very important target as buildings account for 35 percent of our nation’s energy usage, and commercial buildings are a large part of that percentage.

My concern is that, because the eligibility period was cut back from the end of 2010 to just two years, this shorter window of effectiveness could undercut the program, since the time it takes to design and construct these large buildings and skyscrapers could take longer than the two years of eligibility. This is especially a concern as the incentives for commercial buildings are one of the fastest ways in the entire energy bill that we can cut down the nation’s energy usage in the short term.

Mr. Grassley:
We are committed to this as the correct policy for large scale commercial projects. In addition we are committed to seeing energy efficient skyscrapers in the sky and recognize that these types of projects take years to design and build. We will continue to work with you to make this a long term policy of the tax code.

Ms. Snowe:
Again, your assistance is greatly appreciated and I look forward to working with you on this matter in the Finance Committee in the coming months.

Governor Crist Appoints Fenton to Energy Action Team

Thursday, August 16th, 2007

Jim Fenton, director of UCF’s Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) in Cocoa, has been named to the Florida’s Action Team on Energy and Climate Change.

Governor Charlie Crist made the announcement Monday. Crist said he appointed the 21-member committee to “preserve our state’s beautiful natural environment. During the next few months, Florida’s Action Team on Energy and Climate Change will develop further recommendations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and diversify our energy resources.”

Fenton said the first directive should always be to focus on “efficiency.”

“We have to find ways to make it cost effective for consumers to be more energy efficient,” he said.

Fenton, who specializes in fuel cells, sustainable energy, electrochemical engineering, environmental engineering and pollution prevention, said consumers are often put off by the initial cost of products that, in the end, will not only save them money but will also help the environment.

“I would love to find a way to let people buying a brand new home to demand every energy efficiency measure, and solar electric and water heating on the roof from their builder and get an immediate payback,” he said.

The first phase of the committee’s work, due by November 1, will be to make recommendations regarding Florida’s energy policy, including reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and strategies to diversify fuels used to generate electricity.

Phase two of the work, with a deadline of October 1, 2008, will focus on mitigating the impact of greenhouse gas emissions caused by new growth. One way will be looking at how to lure more “climate friendly” businesses to the state.

Fenton said that might require attracting venture capital funds to help companies that make and install energy efficient products to locate in the state.

CONTACT: Barb Abney, UCF, 407-823-5139 or babney@mail.ucf.edu
Governor’s Press Office: 850-488-5394 [http://www.flgov.com/release/9315]