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New York State Promotes High-Performance Houses

Builders are eligible for an incentive grant of $8,000 for each net-zero energy house they build

Posted on Jun 10 2014 by Scott Gibson

Builders in New York State are now eligible for incentive grants of as much as $8,000 for building net-zero energyProducing as much energy on an annual basis as one consumes on site, usually with renewable energy sources such as photovoltaics or small-scale wind turbines. houses, according to an announcement by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).

There are three tiers of cash awards, ranging from $2,000 to $8,000 per building, depending on how well the building performs and how much energy it can potentially save. For example, Tier 1 payouts of $2,000 are for houses that meet requirements of Energy StarLabeling system sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of Energy for labeling the most energy-efficient products on the market; applies to a wide range of products, from computers and office equipment to refrigerators and air conditioners. version 3.0, while Tier 3 houses must have certain HERSIndex or scoring system for energy efficiency established by the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) that compares a given home to a Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Reference Home based on the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code. A home matching the reference home has a HERS Index of 100. The lower a home’s HERS Index, the more energy efficient it is. A typical existing home has a HERS Index of 130; a net zero energy home has a HERS Index of 0. Older versions of the HERS index were based on a scale that was largely just the opposite in structure--a HERS rating of 100 represented a net zero energy home, while the reference home had a score of 80. There are issues that complicate converting old to new or new to old scores, but the basic formula is: New HERS index = (100 - Old HERS score) * 5. ratings, depending on size of the building, and be able to hit net-zero energy performance.

Builders must meet a number of other requirements as well. There are maximum air-leakage requirements, for example, and a long list of specs for heating and cooling equipment.

Incentives are for low-rise buildings, up to three stories tall, said project manager Patrick Fitzgerald. Both new construction and gut-rehabs qualify, but commercial project such as nursing homes do not.

Fitzgerald said 25,000 homes have qualified for payouts since the program was launched about a dozen years ago. The net-zero tier is new this year.

Money to support the program is collected from ratepayers by six investor-owned utilities.

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Jun 10, 2014 11:07 AM ET

Incentives are one thing, mandates another.
by Dana Dorsett

CA requires all new single-family residential buildings to be net zero energy beginning in 2020, and all commercial buildings to meet that standard by 2030.

Austin TX requires new homes to be "net zero capable" beginning in 2015:

As the price of PV continues to fall, given Austin's fairly generous VOST (value of solar tariff) compensation for rooftop solar, the investment in the PV to take "net zero capable" homes to fully net-zero energy is getting into no-brainer territory. But without the mandate to provide sufficient design & solar orientation to become net-zero capable many new homes might otherwise have been locked-out of cheap-PV net-zero possibilities.

To be sure getting to net zero energy in cool/cold climate NY is a lot tougher than in most of CA or TX, and an $8,000 cash credit to the builder isn't going to cover a significantly large fraction of the cost of getting there. But with or without incentives it's still cost effective over the long term when done with appropriately low cost methods, and the $8K is still going to be a double-digit fraction of the upgrades- good for NY!

NY incentives for residential solar are pretty generous, with a 25% state tax credit (up to $5,000) on the gross installed costs. At ~$4/watt installation cost (typical recent pricing in neighboring NJ or MA, not sure about NY), when combined with the 30% federal tax credit it brings the net out of pocket for a 5kw system down to $9,000, (~$1.80/watt) and even that may be financed at 3.5-4%, billed via your electric bill in some instances.

In a state where the average residential retail rate is 21 cents/kwh (highest state residential rate average in the lower 48: ) this too is bordering on a no-brainer investment, at least for the first 5,000 watts of PV.

Jul 11, 2014 1:21 PM ET

Edited Jul 11, 2014 1:23 PM ET.

by aj builder, Upstate NY Zone 6a

NYSERDA PV calculator says 10K system cost is $50,000. equals $1000 per panel.

Equals $5/W

Dana... where is the $1/W pricing? or $2/W?

The giant rebates are getting all the schools and counties and towns around me to make Solar City and the rest Billonaires!!!!!!!!!!!

The twenty year contracts being signed by 2 year politicians is insane!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If the deal is SO good, then the towns should be installing the panels themselves putting some of the shovel leaners to work so the towns get the ENTIRE savings not just a FEW PENNIES!!!

I am more steamed up about this CRAP than the wasted money on civic centers and trash plants and sewer systems and water systems!!!

When the sewer bill for a year is the same cost as it costs me to install a septic... then you know group living with group "savings" is bullsh*t.

Density of living costs more, ruins the planet as well or better than rural living period. Covering the planet with concrete filled with humans and the pocket sized pets is NOT GREEN. IT IS INSANE to think so.

sane in the adirondacks just barely needing to move farther north

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