Solar paneling’s popularity continues to rise on commercial buildings, and it’s not just the utility savings. Tenants are seeking sustainability in the properties they lease. “It used to be more of a check the box on sustainability initially, but now it’s a more and more important item to our customers,” said Chris Mundy, Senior Vice President of Oxford Properties Group at a BisNow Solar and Sustainability Summit in Washington, D.C.
If you’re considering adding solar paneling to your commercial building’s roof, your prospects are looking bright. Not only has the cost of solar paneling dropped up to 60% in the last decade, but a number of state and federal credits and rebates are also currently up for grabs. These incentives are designed to help owners save money when investing in alternative energy sources for your building. But there are also additional ways to help ensure you’re protecting that investment for the long haul. Before you lay any photovoltaic roofing, be sure to do your research.
Whatever your business incentive for choosing to add photovoltaic (PV) paneling to your building’s roof, be sure you take advantage of all the financial savings available to you. Here’s an overview of the various opportunities to look into as you prepare to add solar roofing.
Investment Tax Credit
Perhaps best known is the Investment Tax Credit (ITC), currently available to qualifying businesses and offering up to 26% back on the cost of your solar panel system (excluding cash rebates), through 2021. After 2021, the rate will drop to 10% on all commercial building installments going forward. The federal government provides this solar tax credit allowing qualifying businesses to deduct a portion of the cost from taxes. Check out the Solar Energy Industry Association’s (SEIA) overview of the IRS’ guidelines for eligibility here.
Solar Renewable Energy Credits
Depending on where you live, some states require a certain percentage of their utilities to generate from renewable energy sources, such as solar. If you install photovoltaic roofing on a building located in one of these states, you will receive solar renewable energy certificates (or credits—depending on the state’s terminology—but always shortened to SRECs) based on the amount of electricity your system generates, which the local utilities companies may purchase from you toward meeting their legislated requirements. Depending on your state’s SREC market, this can be a lucrative source of additional income. For a fuller breakdown on how this works, start here.
Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System
For up to 5 years, your business may be able to write off the value of your photovoltaic system. The Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS), helps reduce your company’s tax burden and accelerate the return on tangible property investments. For qualified solar equipment, accelerated depreciation can reduce the net cost by an additional 30%. The SEIA offers further information here.
Other financial opportunities include whether your solar system may be exempt from state sales taxes and if the value of the panel system is included in your area’s property tax assessments. Depending on your tax rates, your solar system’s exclusion from these taxes could mean even further savings at installation and as the value of your property increases.
You likely don’t keep a running list of building credits, rebates, and opportunities in your area—but North Carolina State University does. Funded by the United States Department of Energy, this searchable Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency outlines the incentives that may be available to you. As you finalize your PV roofing selection, it will be a resource worth visiting.
After you’ve worked out the finances on your solar materials and installation, be sure to budget for the proper roofing support. Photovoltaic equipment is heavy and requires ongoing maintenance—all of which adds wear and tear to your roofing system. The optimal foundation for solar equipment includes a high-quality cover board to add durability and strength across the assembly.
A high-performance cover board provides a sturdy layer of protection between the roof membrane and more delicate insulation below, to help keep the weighty solar paneling and increased maintenance worker foot traffic from denting, puncturing, or cracking the roofing system. Made from durable gypsum with a strong fiberglass mat, DensDeck® Prime Roof Boards lend extra support beneath the photovoltaic roofing to help maintain a strong foundation and avoid re-roofing needs from early damage.
Your fire checklist likely includes all the necessary safety equipment and protocols, but what about the very structure of the building? Is your most vulnerable location—the roof—adequately protected? How your roof assembly is designed is directly proportional to the fire resistance it provides. By using the right roof board in both the thermal position and in the cover board position, you can help protect your building in three key ways:
Not all roof boards perform optimally in both the thermal and cover board positions. When it comes to fire, ensure you use a gypsum roof board, without combustible fiber, such as DensDeck® Prime Roof Board. Every 5/8” 4’x8’ sheet contains 2 gallons of crystallized water. In independent testing, it is rated as non-combustible, and unlike HD ISO, it measured the lowest on dangerous flames and toxins released: zero.
Not all roof boards perform optimally in both the thermal and cover board positions. When it comes to fire, ensure you use a gypsum roof board without combustible fiber, such as DensDeck® Prime Roof Board. Every 5/8” 4’x8’ sheet contains 2 gallons of crystallized water. In independent testing, it was rated as non-combustible and found to release no dangerous toxins or flames when attempting to burn the surface.
Until the day that every fire is prevented from ignition, the game is risk mitigation. By using a high-performance gypsum cover board and a thermal roof board in your roof assembly design, you can help protect the assets in your portfolio from fire’s destructive grasp.
The right foundation builds the best buildings. Simply complete the form below and we’ll send you an email with a link to download the infographic “Set Up Your Solar Roofing for Success”.
Want to learn more about cover boards? Have a new roof construction project? Need assistance on a roof remodel?