Lightly Treading Blog

Keep up to date on the latest news and updates from Lightly Treading

Ground Source Heat Pumps in Multifamily projects with up to 30% federal tax credits

Ground Source Heat Pumps (GSHP) and many Air-Source Heat-Pumps (ASHP) via “mini-splits” are almost always the most cost-effective options

November 5, 2018

Art of Construction Podcast Show 98 - Energy Efficiency - Above and Beyond Industry Standards

Paul Kriescher joins in on this episode of The Art of Construction to explain cutting-edge energy efficiency techniques and trends.

April 16, 2018

Climate Dividends

The most viable means of reducing carbon emissions across the globe by 70% by 2050

September 13, 2017

Ground Source Heat Pumps in Multifamily projects with up to 30% federal tax credits

Ground Source Heat Pumps (GSHP) and many Air-Source Heat-Pumps (ASHP) via “mini-splits” are almost always the most cost-effective options

November 5, 2018

Ground Source Heat Pumps (GSHP) and many Air-Source Heat-Pumps (ASHP) via “mini-splits” are almost always the most cost-effective options for multi-family building heating and cooling; and they have become even more affordable because of an act of Congress. It may be surprising, but the U.S. Congress passed legislation in February 2018 through the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 which reinstated the tax credit of geothermal heat pumps to § 25D of the Internal Revenue Code.

The property credit provides a 30% tax credit for residential systems (including multifamily properties up to 3 stories with central domestic water heater or up to 5 stories with individual domestic water heating) placed in service by 12/31-2019. It decreases to 26% between 12/31/19 and 1/1/2021 and 22% between 12/31/2020 and 1/1/2022. Significantly, the American Recovery and Reinvestment of 2009 repealed a previous limitation on the use of the credit for eligible projects which are also supported by “subsidized energy financing.” For projects placed in service after December 31, 2008, this limitation no longer applies.

With that news, Lightly Treading has been able to work on two multifamily projects which were/are built with high quality building science at their core which included Ground Source Heat Pump heating and cooling without a back-up boiler for heating nor back-up air-conditioning condensers for cooling. The first project, Solaire a multifamily project with its 252 units plus a clubhouse and outdoor swimming pool, was completed in 2015. The second project, Elements at Prairie Center project is nearly completed now (summer of 2018), both by C & A Companies, are examples of apartments which are built to meet the need for affordable living spaces for a wide spectrum of middle and working income tenants. They are most remarkable however by accomplishing this while also doing a wonderful job of delivering high performance. These market-rate spaces have or are achieving ENERGY STAR certification, and, in the case of Elements, it is also achieving compliance with EPA Water Sense certification.

Focusing on the ENERGY STAR certification, they have done so with:

·        R-40+ cellulose attic insulation

·        Thorough air-sealing including spray foam on the rim joists of each floor,

·        Blown cellulose insulation (R-20) in the 2x6 walls constructed following the principles of advanced-framing

·        ENERGY STAR windows (image below),

·        R-10 slab-edge insulation

·        All of this resulting in air-tightness with an average Natural Air Change/Hour rate of 0.17

·       High-efficiency central domestic water heating equipment

They topped off all this high-quality construction specifications by installing Ground Source Heat Pumps (GSHP) with 320 feet of heat-exchange tubing in 10 vertical bore holes per building. These GSPH systems provide all the space heating and cooling for the 254 units at Solaire and 291 units at Elements at Prairie Center as well as common areas.It was the GSHP which has provided the defining detail which resulted in 175 units at Solaire in 2014 and 2015 and 78 units from the 5 completed buildings at Elements at Prairie Center in 2017 being eligible for the $2,000/unit federal tax credit for building at least 50% better than the 2006 IECC heating& cooling performance standards. This has meant $506,000 in tax credits for C & A companies thus far from these two projects! They will certainly earn more tax credits if Congress renews the law, which expired at the end of 2017.

Lightly Treading collaborated with C&A Companies and their GSHP consultant: Conald Frank with SMC Geothermal, to adjust the specifications before construction. We were then the 3rd party inspectors and quality assurance verifiers through construction of both of these projects.

Following the completion of Solaire, SMC Geothermal monitored one of the units; a 1040 sq. ft. 2 bedroom/bath with 2 people living in it who have been keeping their thermostat at 73 degrees in winter and 72 degrees in summer. Even with these settings being 5 degrees warmer in winter and 4 degrees cooler in the summer than is recommended, the unit has been averaging $8.67/month for heating or cooling! This is 61% better than the same unit built with the common practice heating/cooling system with a power-vented water heater (0.67 EF) and air-conditioning via a 13 SEER system delivering heat through a fan-coil and ductwork distribution system.

Since Solaire was built there have been even further advances in pump efficiency for both GSHP and ASHP, further improving potential savings by 10% or more for future projects. This coupled with the federal tax credits and substantial credits from United Power, the local electrical provider makes it MUST-DO to at least seriously evaluate GSHP & ASHP heating/cooling systems for every future multi-family project.

Contact Paul Kriescher (303-733-3078, x301 or info@lightlytreading.com) at Lightly Treading to learn more and how we can evaluate the cost-effectiveness of a GSHP or ASHP system as part of an overall sustainability plan for your future project!

Art of Construction Podcast Show 98 - Energy Efficiency - Above and Beyond Industry Standards

Paul Kriescher joins in on this episode of The Art of Construction to explain cutting-edge energy efficiency techniques and trends.

April 16, 2018

Paul Kriescher joins in on an episode of The Art of Construction with Devon Tilly and Kevin Keaton to talk about the “why” and “how” to make existing and new buildings and homes sustainable work for the bottom-line of the buyer, builder and developer.

Listen to the podcast here: https://www.theartofconstruction.net/single-post/Show-98-Paul-Kriescher-with-Lightly-Treading

© Art of Construction, all rights reserved

Climate Dividends

The most viable means of reducing carbon emissions across the globe by 70% by 2050

September 13, 2017

Lightly Treading has recently learned about an elegantly straightforward strategy to significantly reduce the discharge of carbon pollution into the Earth’s atmosphere and oceans from a group of conservative Republicans through their newly created Climate Leadership Council (www.Clcouncil.org). This organization includes George Schulz (Secretary of State under Ronald Reagan) and James Baker III (Secretary of Treasury under Ronald Reagan and Secretary of State under George H. W. Bush).

Their proposal is to have the marketplace finally account for the long-standing “externality” (i.e., a cost not included within normal accounting practices) of the impact on the planet of Carbon Dioxide (CO²) coming from the burning of oil, coal and natural gas. CO² emissions from burning fossil fuels have been the most significant source of increasing the atmospheric levels of C02 from a historic range of 172 ppm to 300 ppm (parts-per-million) over the last 400,000 years but beginning in approximately 1900 until today in 2017 the current atmospheric levels have risen to 403ppm! The Climate Leadership Council’s proposal is to start with $40/ton of CO² fee (tax) which gradually increases until effectively reducing U.S. (and global) emissions by 70% by the year 2050 per the Paris Climate Agreement. This fee will be paid by the companies who sell petroleum (i.e., oil extraction companies and refineries), coal (coal mining companies) and natural gas (extraction companies). These companies will pass on the fees (estimated to raise gasoline by $0.38 to $0.42/gallon on the $40/ton fee) to consumers raising the cost of fossil fuel energy. In order to keep this from being a true “tax” the money raised is set to come back to each, and every, U.S citizen, with Social Security number, as a quarterly dividend. The Council states that the bottom 70% of U.S. income earners would see a modest increase in the money in their pockets under this proposal. Specifically, they state the bottom 10% of people would see ~9% increase in income and the middle 50% earners would see ~1% increase in their income.

In exchange for this fee, the Council is requesting all carbon emission related regulations (i.e., the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan) be removed from EPA oversight. We see this as a very reasonable compromise because in our 20 years in the business of energy-efficiency and 30 years of being concerned about climate change, we’ve consistently seen more energy-efficiency improvements done in homes and business; let alone the purchases of more fuel-efficient vehicles go up, when energy prices have been higher. During these 30 years we’ve been waiting for the conservative segment of U.S. political philosophy to come up with a plan to conserve the health and multigenerational prosperity of all of Earth’s inhabitants; and we believe the Climate Leadership Council has come up with that plan.

After watching their “Council Launch Event” video and/or reading their “Unlocking the Climate Puzzle” on their website you join us in being hopeful about this proposal moving forward in-spite of the chaos in Washington D.C. Please write your 1) U.S. Senators (both of them can be found at www.senate.gov/senators/contact) and your U.S. Congress-person at www.house.gov/representatives/find to ask them 1) do they know about Climate Leadership Council’s proposal and 2) do they plan to author, or at least support, this as legislation once it comes to the House and Senate?