LEED, follow or get out of the way … of taxes that is

I was reading the other day about how all those buildings with LEED ratings are costing taxpayers, and recalled all those casino executives bragging about how their then-new casinos and hotel were “green” friendly because they earned an LEED rating.

What I don’t recall, nor do I recall any news reporter ever asking, is just how much the ratings saved the builders in tax exemptions.

You know LEED, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, those designations handed out like so much Halloween candy by the U.S. Green Building Council for being efficient and environmentally friendly.

Plaque in lobby of Palazzo.

It turns out, according to an article in USA Today this past summer that I somehow overlooked, a LEED tag can be worth millions, not in savings on power bills, but on tax exemptions.

The Palazzo hotel and casino, built by the Las Vegas Sands and its owner Sheldon Adelson, 12th richest person in the world, managed to grasp a $27 million tax break over 10 years because it did such things as putting a bike rack in the garage and putting cards in hotel rooms suggesting towels could be used more than once.

The green building gurus reportedly looked past their own policy and overlooked the fact smoking is allowed in the 2.5-acre casino.

The Palazzo also got credit for having preferred parking for fuel-efficient cars. When USA Today checked those spots were occupied by Ford Expeditions, Chevy Tahoes, Range Rovers, Mercedes E320s, Chrysler 300s, Audi A6s, vans, sports cars and a Hummer.

Writing in the Washington Times recently, David Williams, president of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance, reported that a study of 11 U.S. Navy-owned buildings revealed four certified green structures were outperformed by noncertified structures; three more were at parity; and four others narrowly outperformed conventional buildings.

“The U.S. General Services Administration, which serves as the landlord for the federal government by managing its various properties, estimates that each federal project in which LEED certification is pursued costs the taxpayers an additional $150,000,” Williams wrote.

6 comments on “LEED, follow or get out of the way … of taxes that is

  1. Boyd says:

    I attended the NPRI doings a couple months back at the Venetion/Palazzo. Never been to a strip casino before but in hindsight one thing is clear. Since the entire concept of Palazzo type structures is dedicated to being as assiduously resource consuming as possible the idea that they can be made green is not only unlikely but completely at odds with their entire business model. Who but a government bureaucrat would be so credulous as to give tax breaks for such an obvious ruse? I mean we are talking Vegas. No reason to be cautious about intentions here. Or anything.

  2. Steve says:

    I have been in several hotels recently. (New job at a company will cause that)
    Southern CA and New Jersey mainly.

    All of them have those towel cards and I hung the towels up to dry instead of tossing them on the floor. (Those cards instruct you to leave towels on the floor if you want them replaced).

    In every case, housekeeping replaced all my used towels and wash cloths every day.

    LEED tax fraud is not only for Las Vegas resorts.

    From personal experience:
    It is most certainly a national occurrence.

  3. Anything for a tax break.

  4. iShrug says:

    Personally, I pursue every legal means to pay the minimum amount of taxes I can. If it makes economic sense to do so. The problem is the tax system. If there were a “fair tax” or flat tax system in place, LEED buildings and rooftop solar panels (plus numerous other special tax credits) wouldn’t be an issue. All special exemptions for some people mean that others pay more to make up the balance.

    As for preferred hybrid vehicle parking, I think the spots should be reserved for people with kids in the car: less chance of me running them over when the little tykes suddenly appear from behind a car in the lot.

  5. Boyd says:

    That wasn’t meant as a criticism of Vegas or its business people. If anything it was a compliment to their business acumen. It’s their responsibility to make a profit not keep nitwit government officials informed.

  6. The tax system shouldn’t be twisted to give favors for any reason.

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