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New Federal Legislation Would Provide Tax Breaks for IAQ Upgrades

Indoor air quality is finally getting more attention at the federal level. Representative Don Beyer (D-Virginia) has introduced legislation that would incentivize IAQ upgrades in commercial buildings. Beyer’s legislation would provide tax breaks for commercial building owners who conduct air quality assessments and upgrade their ventilation and air filtration systems. “Improving indoor air quality reduces the risk of COVID-19 transmission, but it can also benefit employers and workers by reducing sick days, creating a cleaner and more comfortable work environment, and lessening the risk of long-term health conditions,” Rep. Beyer said in a press release.

The Airborne Act is backed by many industry groups including the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), an organization that creates recommends standards for HVAC and filtration systems. The legislation would provide a $1 per square foot tax credit for commercial building owners who conduct IAQ assessments. It would also incentivize building owners to upgrade their HVAC systems to meet ASHRAE Standard 62.1-2019. The tax credit for HVAC upgrades would equal $5 per square foot of buildings affected by air filters and an additional $50 per square foot for ventilation systems, limited to 50 percent of the total project cost.

The EPA lists harmful indoor air quality as one of the top 5 risks to public health, but there’s very little regulation around it, especially at the federal level. The Airborne Act would be a package of tax incentives, not a regulation, but air quality advocates say it’s a step in the right direction. COVID and airborne transmission of the virus has increased focus on IAQ recently, and building owners should expect more of a push for cleaner indoor air in the coming years.

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