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The New Year is upon us, and 2013 is expected to be a busy year in environmental sustainability, with GreenBiz predicting in a recent story on 2013 trends that investment in smart buildings and smart cities will continue to grow. The first few days of 2013 also included a down-to-the-wire political showdown as the fiscal cliff was narrowly averted by Congress. The environment was a winner in the final deal, which renewed the wind energy tax credit for an additional year.
Following the fiscal cliff deal in the U.S. Congress, USA Today reported that a one-year extension of a tax credit for new wind power construction was included in Tuesday’s legislation. Historically, the tax credit has been a major driver for wind development across the U.S. and is worth 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour of energy produced by new wind installations for their first 10 years of operation. The tax was scheduled to expire at the end of 2012, but was renewed through 2013. Most importantly, the tax now applies to projects that start construction in 2013, even if it is not completed until the following year. The tax credit helps make renewable energy more competitive with traditional energy sources like coal, which helps consumers and businesses looking to shift toward consuming greater amounts of renewable energy.
In other sustainability news, GreenBiz published an article highlighting the seven environmental sustainability trends to watch in 2013. One key trend is the use of IT to redefine the ways commercial and industrial buildings operate. While smart buildings are not yet the norm for most major businesses, the emerging energy efficiency platforms provide a glimpse into the industry’s potential. Other trends include data transparency for cities, businesses and consumers, electric vehicles, and investment in renewable energy sources. Another great idea that gets a shout-out is Green Button, a tool that lets consumers and businesses download energy use data. The article suggests that the feature is poised for more growth this year as more utilities implement programs that make use of the data—another reminder of how software can help people live more sustainable lives.