It took more than a year, but the Resilient Floor Covering Institute (RFCI) succeeded in its fight to have New York state recognize that vinyl floor products may be used in green buildings eligible for a green tax credit. The New York state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the RFCI reached the agreement at the end of May, one week before hearings were set to begin in Albany County Supreme Court about the department’s Green Building Tax Credit regulations.

This is proof positive of the value of our industry being able to unite under the leadership of a strong association to protect our interests. The RFCI is to be congratulated for taking the lead in this important matter.

“We are very pleased that New York State has recognized that vinyl flooring may be used in buildings qualifying for a New York green tax credit,” said Mary Docker, president of RFCI. “Vinyl flooring is a high-performance, durable and environmentally sound product which has been successfully used in the United States for over 50 years.”

Under the final Green Building tax credit regulations issued in May 2002, the DEC stated it was “maintaining the proposed prohibition on vinyl flooring” in buildings qualifying for a green tax credit. The program encourages greater energy efficiency and cleaner air by promoting the utilization of recycled materials and incorporation of renewable and energy-efficient power generation into building designs.

The regulation allows building owners and developers to deduct from their state taxes the eligible expenses associated with designing and constructing green buildings. New York’s Green Building Tax Credit program allocates as much as $25 million for eligible commercial and residential structures greater than 20,000 square feet. Included in the regulation are six tax credit components, ranging from 5 percent to 30 percent depending upon the building location and use of recycled materials and energy efficiency.

According to attorney Bill Hall of Winston & Strawn, which represents the RFCI, New York has acknowledged in court filings that “the Tax Credit Regulations do not prohibit the use of vinyl flooring” in green buildings.

According to the DEC’s “performance-based” compliance path, building owners can now obtain a Green Building Tax Credit if all floors were vinyl, provided the building meets all other performance-based criteria. Similarly, under the listed materials compliance path, New York has agreed that as much as 50 percent of the uncarpeted floor may contain vinyl flooring if the other 50 percent contains a listed flooring product.

With this major agreement, look for New York’s Green Building tax credit program to become a model for similar programs throughout the United States, thus creating expanded opportunities for vinyl flooring products.