Thanks to legislation enacted this year, Cincinnati residents are eligible for up to 15 years of property-tax exemption for LEED-certified new homes or remodeling projects, and local green builders are reaping the rewards.

As of January 2008, new LEED-certified Silver and Gold homes can receive 15 years of city and county tax relief for homes valued up to $500,000; LEED Platinum homes have no maximum-value limit. A 10-year tax abatement period also is offered for residential remodeling projects as small as $2,500 that meet LEED certification standards.  Sponsored by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), LEED for Homes is a rating system that promotes the design and construction of high-performance green homes.

Area builders are cashing in on the interest in green building that the program has generated with city residents.

“It’s helping business, we’ve picked up a couple of jobs because of it,” said Andy Hueber of John Hueber Homes, which has  four LEED-certified homes in the program so far.

Hueber said the plan has spurred city residents to consider green products and technologies. “A lot of people have heard about it and they come to us and ask about it and then we educate them about what it involves,” he said.

Since becoming involved in the program, Hueber said his company has taken on more green projects, even outside the city limits. “It gives us a nice edge,” he noted. “It was a challenge learning how to build to LEED specifications at first but it’s gotten easier.”

Thanks to the incentives, many other local builders also are finding a niche in eco-friendly construction and remodeling, according to Barb Yankie of Green Building Consulting, a Cincinnati-based energy-rating firm.

“All of our builders are going for LEED,” said Yankie. “It’s raised interest in LEED, and is definitely a marketing tool that builders can use right now to help sell homes--they’re trying anything they can right now.”

Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory and city council members devised the program to provide an added benefit for owners of new and retrofit sustainable homes, according to Eric Denson, senior community development analyst. All city, county, and school board taxes are waived for qualifying homes.

“The impetus was really to combat energy costs,” he said. “The main concern was dealing with rising costs, at a time when gas prices were through the roof.”

In addition, Denson said, city officials felt it was “an environmentally smart thing to do.”

Projects do not have to demonstrate financial need to be approved for tax abatement, Denson added. For more information, visit