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Sara Magalhaes

Apr 25, 2016
07:57

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Hi Team!

Thanks so much for the proposal!

Best,

Sara


Julie Barry

May 20, 2016
11:58

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I think this is a good idea with a lot of potential, but I don't understand how the monies saved on property taxes would translate into more efficient or net zero emission buildings. Given how little retrofitting might actually be needed to many buildings to increase their efficiency, I'd be concerned that the lost tax revenue would outweigh the value of relatively minor retrofitting, particularly since many municipalities have grown to rely more on property taxes to make up their budget shortfalls from declining federal funds. If you haven't read it, you might be interested in this TechXPlore article on a study by MIT grad students about how relatively little retrofitting results in great gains in terms of reduced GHG emissions https://techxplore.com/news/2016-04-retrofitting-city-big-impact-carbon.html

You may also want to consider modeling this idea on something like the pending carbon fee legislation proposed by MA state senator Mike Barrett, which is based on the very successful carbon pricing program in British Columbia, so that property owners have an incentive to use some portion of the money saved on property taxes to retrofit buildings with a goal of net zero emissions. See https://malegislature.gov/Bills/189/Senate/S1747 The bill creates a fund, separate from the treasury, then puts a charge on fossil fuels. The revenues from the fees go into the dedicated fund with every state resident getting an equal rebate. Those who use less fossil fuels (in part because they upgrade) would get to keep more of their rebate rather than spending in on fossil fuels and attendant fees. Perhaps a similar program could be developed around property fees - not taxes - where owners of retrofitted and NZE buildings would keep more of their rebate than owners of buildings with greater GHG emissions - who should then be encouraged to use their rebates towards retrofitting.

Good luck!

Julie


Julie Barry

May 20, 2016
11:58

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I think this is a good idea with a lot of potential, but I don't understand how the monies saved on property taxes would translate into more efficient or net zero emission buildings. Given how little retrofitting might actually be needed to many buildings to increase their efficiency, I'd be concerned that the lost tax revenue would outweigh the value of relatively minor retrofitting, particularly since many municipalities have grown to rely more on property taxes to make up their budget shortfalls from declining federal funds. If you haven't read it, you might be interested in this TechXPlore article on a study by MIT grad students about how relatively little retrofitting results in great gains in terms of reduced GHG emissions https://techxplore.com/news/2016-04-retrofitting-city-big-impact-carbon.html

You may also want to consider modeling this idea on something like the pending carbon fee legislation proposed by MA state senator Mike Barrett, which is based on the very successful carbon pricing program in British Columbia, so that property owners have an incentive to use some portion of the money saved on property taxes to retrofit buildings with a goal of net zero emissions. See https://malegislature.gov/Bills/189/Senate/S1747 The bill creates a fund, separate from the treasury, then puts a charge on fossil fuels. The revenues from the fees go into the dedicated fund with every state resident getting an equal rebate. Those who use less fossil fuels (in part because they upgrade) would get to keep more of their rebate rather than spending in on fossil fuels and attendant fees. Perhaps a similar program could be developed around property fees - not taxes - where owners of retrofitted and NZE buildings would keep more of their rebate than owners of buildings with greater GHG emissions - who should then be encouraged to use their rebates towards retrofitting.

Good luck!

Julie


Jeffery Smith

Jun 4, 2016
08:27

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Hi, Julie. Thanks for the comments.

First, a clarification. Owners of buildings would save the money that they now spend on the building half of the property tax. Yet they might pay more for the land half. Owners of vacant lots downtown almost certainly would pay more for the land half of the property tax.

So, it's not a matter of savings so much as it is incentives. Taxing buildings reduces the incentive to maintain them or build nice ones in the first place. Taxing land increases the incentive to put one's parcel to best use. So, in detective jargon, post-reform, owners would have both the means (saved building tax) and the motive (higher land tax) to improve their buildings, and often in ways that save energy.

And the greater the value of the location, the more value the owner wants to put into the building (so the site does not go to waste). One obvious way to increase value that grows ever more popular is to incorporate efficiency. Me, I'm a big fan of retrofitting and practice it myself. Yet I am also sympathetic to owners and builders, and if the tax on buildings deters any of them, that's enough for me to abolish it and shift to taxing locations.

BTW, I gave a talk in BC on these geonomic ideas decades. Maybe a seed bore fruit, or maybe I was just too far ahead of the curve. Barrett's bill looks good, even though I'm not a huge fan of micro-managing. Complexity turns out to be an enemy of equity. If government were to pay people for the time it takes to fill out forms, that might be fair.

Turning from individual buildings to settlement patterns. fees lose the power to drive in-fill, while shifting the property tax off buildings, onto land, makes cities compact. So you get efficient buildings and efficient transportation both. That's huge.

Thanks for the well wishes.

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