by Jorg Breuning
There is now enough evidence to believe that the American economy is starting to recover. However, ongoing clashes over taxes and spending threaten to delay or derail recent improvements. Comparing to State Governments, most Counties, Cities or Townships do not have the luxury of drawn out debates. They are short on money and have to make decisions and/or cuts quickly.
Over the last few years the subsidies for green roofs have increased consistently and there is hardly anybody who knows exactly how much cash or monetary value you can get in any certain area. The cash cow with the name ‘Green Incentives’ is present. Big corporations hire people simply to source these cash incentives and focus on these areas with their Armada of sale forces simply because the profit margins are higher in these places (milking). For these companies it is almost like an additional return on their paid taxes- if they paid taxes at all.
Trade associations typically operate the same way and support this domino effect for more subsidiaries in the green roof industry. They are mainly financed by large corporations that are lobbying generously in both fields and utilize them to increase incentives and cash subsidies at the Federal, State, County, or City level. For outsiders it can be seen as a closed loop system of slush funds.
To reduce competition in the green roof business, the big dudes also support Non-Profits to compete against smaller green roof companies for smaller jobs. They often do that under the guise of the Good-Samaritan to create awareness and jobs for the unemployed young generation.
However, all of these hardworking and well educated smaller companies are the source of innovations, inventions, increase of efficiency and the guarantor of quality. They are the specialists that deliver to the client what they promised, they developed experiences over years that can’t be taught in a seminar and they relatively pay the most taxes.
Cutting the cash incentives for green roofs by cutting budgets is their chance to prove their capability and creativity. They would be able to move the industry forward by increasing the long term sustainability of green roofs and the industry by offering precisely what the client wants and to develop cost reductions without compromise.
The green roof industry is old enough to walk alone without breast feeding, although not old enough that it can survive entirely on its own. Many Cities in the USA and around the world have shown that indirect incentives for green roofs (tax breaks, faster permitting, reducing stormwater fees, depreciation write-offs etc.) are much less costly and more effective. Utilizing the saved budget money for educating a new generation, entire green infrastructure industry is more sustainable for the decades to come.
Budget cuts of cash incentives are the right direction for our industry.