The cost of fossil fuels (heating oil and natural gas) as well as electricity are significant elements of home ownership and the operation of commercial and office buildings. Combustion of fossil fuels is a significant contributor to a building's "carbon footprint". As a consequence of government regulation and utility company incentives, the installation and use of energy saving and energy producing technologies has become an element in the evaluation of residential and commercial properties. Federal and State tax credits may be available to property owners who install “qualified energy property expenditures and qualified energy efficiency improvements”. Such “improvements” include the installation of fixtures such as qualifying furnaces, hot water heaters, and windows which meet industry and government established standards such as the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) and the ANSI/ASHREI/IES Standard 90.1. Information about tax credits for the installation energy efficient fixture and of photo voltaic (PV) technologies (e.g. solar panels) and other qualifying technologies, such as fuel cells and wind turbines can be found at www.energy.gov/taxbreaks.htm and www.energystar.gov/ index.cfm?c=tax_credits.tx_index.
The Federal and state governments have established standards for construction technologies, building materials and appliances designed to promote energy efficiency. The installation and use of such practices, materials and appliances may qualify a building for "LEED" or “Energy Star” designation. The Energy Star designation certifies that the products, which may have a higher initial cost will allow the consumer to recover the investment in lower energy costs within a research period of time. Not all Energy Star qualified homes and products qualify for tax credits. However, Energy Star qualified homes and products are intended to be at least 15% more energy efficient that houses built to the specifications of the Massachusetts Building Code. Buildings that satisfy the "Massachusetts Stretch Code" may qualify for the Energy Star Designation.