Catching some rays pays

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Peter Belisle
Energy and Sustainability

In an earlier post, I discussed how companies are engaging in a wider range of sustainability strategies these days.  But there’s one great opportunity that most people I’ve spoken to don’t fully grasp: Solar energy.

A lot of people dismiss solar energy as far too expensive to consider. That used to be the case, but improvements in technology and market maturation have caused the price of generating a kilowatt-hour of solar power to fall by more than 40 percent in recent years. Federal incentives for 2011, including 100 percent first-year depreciation and a 30% grant, make solar energy a viable strategy for large flat-roof buildings and vacant land parcels, and incentives in several states sweeten the deal considerably.

Even with incentives, solar may not be the cheapest source of energy you can get today; however, as fuel prices continue to rise over time, the financial equation will tip more and more to solar, where upfront cost is virtually the entire cost.

Another benefit of solar for corporations is its visibility: employees, visitors and passers-by who see solar arrays on company-owned distribution centers and office buildings receive a visual reminder of a company’s green commitment. Eventually, these installations may become commonplace and the differentiation factor will be diminished. But that’s all the more reason why more CRE leaders should be pursuing solar strategies today.

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