Greenprint: Five Home Improvement Projects to Prioritize

If you’re like me, you’ve already started a short list of home improvement projects to invest in with your 2015 tax return. Below is a list of five home improvement projects that you should prioritize because tax incentives are currently set to expire at the end of 2016. These projects will bring you short and long-term savings by increasing your energy efficiency as well as savings in the form of tax credits.

  • A new ‘Cool Roof’: By selecting a light colored roof material (metal or asphalt), you’re decreasing the amount of heat that’s absorbed by your home. You can also claim a tax credit that’s10% of the material cost up to $500.

solar cool roof

  • Replacing doors, windows or skylights: ENERGY STAR qualified materials will bring you savings in heating, cooling and lighting as well as a 10% tax credit up to $500 ($300 for windows).

skylight

  • Going Tankless: Heating water can account for 14-25% of your homes energy use. Investing in an energy efficient model will give you energy savings and a tax credit for up to $300 of the units cost.
  • Alternative Energy:  The most opportunistic investment is still with onsite renewables, such as geothermal, wind or solar with a tax credit up to 30% of the cost, with no upper limit. (Now through 2019)
  • Insulation: By increasing the insulation in your walls or attic, you will decrease your home heating and cooling costs as well as receive a 10% tax credit for the cost of the product, up to $500.

For all of these upgrades, you should be able to verify their qualification with your contractor or sales person.

For more information on energy efficient tax credits and incentives visit: Federal Tax Credits for Consumer Energy Efficiency or Energy Efficiency Tax Credits, Rebates and Financing: What Options Are Available for You?

– Beth Wallace is the manager of sustainability for the Detroit Zoological Society.

Greenprint: Detroit Zoo is the Greenest Zoo

This year, the Detroit Zoological Society (DZS) celebrated its 13th year of strategic planning around green efforts. Lucky 13 has proven to be our year, as we’ve just been awarded the 2015 Green Award – top honors – by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums for our sustainability initiatives. This national award recognizes that being green also makes good business practice and directly contributes to the conservation of the natural world.

This honor came on the heels of the DZS completing our bottled water phase-out effort, which is helping to keep more than 60,000 single-use plastic bottles out of landfills and the environment. Over the last three years, the DZS has also invested more than $3 million into energy efficiency projects, which results in utility costs savings of nearly $275,000 annually.

The year ahead is even more exciting as we are currently breaking ground to build the first dry biodigester in Michigan, and the first zoo-based system in the country. This biodigester will compost more than 400 tons of animal waste and organic food waste while capturing methane to be used as a renewable energy source to help power the Zoo’s animal hospital.

We are also getting our feet wet (or in this case keeping them dry) with permeable pavement sidewalks and parking lots, which diverts storm water from our sewer systems to prevent flooding and sewer overflows into our rivers and lakes.

And perhaps most exciting, we will open the new Polk Penguin Conservation Center in early 2016, which will represent our most sustainable construction work to date and will provide more than 80 penguins of four species with a state-of-the-art habitat while creating a critical discussion around climate change. The entire building is being designed to meet goals of LEED and components of the Living Building Challenge, with renewable and recycled materials, daylight harvesting through solar tubes, as well as water filtration systems helping us reach net-zero water use.

Join us on our Green Journey!

Beth Wallace is the manager of sustainability for the Detroit Zoological Society.