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Editorial: New option 'green' certification could aid tax credit process

Few will deny that "green" is good.

In new home construction, that means an energy-conserving building is a worthy goal that deserves public support.

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In Baltimore County, that support also includes tax abatement. Since 2003, the Baltimore County Code has offered a three-tier scale of property tax relief — depending on the level of "green" quality, with the top tier being 100 percent — for housing constructed according to measurable standards. Those standards involve site, water and energy conservation, building materials, indoor air quality and more.

The key word here is "measurable." By whom? Using what tools? That is best answered by having a third party sign off on certification. That is what Baltimore County has been doing by using the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system.

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LEED certification currently qualifies a property for tax relief in the county.

Now a bill before the County Council introduced by Councilmen David Marks and Tom Quirk would add a second rating system — certification according to the National Green Building Standard (NGBS).

This NGBS standard is a collaborative effort by the National Association of Home Builders and the International Code Council. It was introduced in 2008.

The two standards have come under comparative scrutiny elsewhere — Cincinnati, for example — and studies judge the two to be about equally rigorous, although they do have differences.

Among the differences, the studies said, are flexibility, time-saving and cost.

The NGBS standard was judged in the studies as more flexible, less time-consuming and less expensive. The study found that NGBS certification costs about $800 less than LEED certification, which can run up to $2,000.

We think the Marks-Quirk bill has promise, and could add flexibility to the county's support of green construction.


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