August 5-18, 2020 - Page 41 Construction, Design & Engineering While headlines abound in our media outlets ranging from COVID-19 updates to civil unrest to the upcoming presidential elec- tion, it is our hope that 2020 serves more as a milestone for change, rather than a cause for destruc- tion. The commercial real estate and construction markets are not immune to societal upheavals, as our industries are made up of people fromvarious backgrounds. As a means to celebrate this diver- sity and initiate change within our industry, the AGC of Colorado’s Diversity Committee is launch- ing a Culture of CARE campaign throughout ColoradoAug. 3-7. According to the Culture of CARE website , this is “an initiative created inpart- nership between the Associated General Contractors of America and the AGC of Washington to advance the construction indus- try as the industry of choice for diverse and talented workers by building inclusive work envi- ronments in construction firms nationwide.” Our Colorado chap- ter signed the pledge to commit the AGC of Colorado to the fol- lowing principles that make up the CARE initiative: • Commit – “To hire and pay based on skill and experience regardless of ethnicity, gender identity, nationality, race, religion, sex or sexual orientation.” •Attract –“Prospectiveemploy- ees by creating inclusive work- places that are free from harass- ment, hazing and bullying.” • Retain – “High-performing employees by identifying and removing barriers to advance- ment.” • Empower – “Every employee to promote a culture of diversity and inclusion.” What Does the Culture of CARE Mean to You? To reinforce the significance of this initiative, we reached out to several participants of the Cul- ture of CARE commitment and asked them to share what it means to them. “As a construction industry, we must listen and celebrate the diversity of our industry and community. The power of diversity will make us a more inclusive team ready to build the impossible. By supporting diverse and inclusive people, the construction industry will see improved safety, increased productivity and the retention of skilled tradespeople that are needed now more than ever.” – Bryan Cook, executive director, Construction Education Founda- tion and Staff Liaison of AGC’s Diversity Committee “Due to the diverse perspec- tives we all have to offer, every- one’s concerns and thoughts must be valued in the con- struction industry with some sense of care. As an individual that’s been in the construction industry for 20 year, there are so many different layers in the construction industry, and we must have the same sense of care for everyone in the indus- try so we all can continue to do amazing things for our diverse communities.” – Mauricio Hen- derson, CEO, Perseverance, AGC of Colorado Diversity committee co-chair “I remember as a younger woman getting whistled at on job sites – that never happens anymore, and I believe that is because our construction industry is changing. Some of my favorite project managers are female and I love working alongside a diverse workforce. The industry has come a long way, but it takes an intentional focus to keep improving, which is why I fully support the Cul- ture of CARE.” – Karen Keyes, President, The Art of Concrete LLC, AGC of Colorado Diversity Committee co-chair “I believe the Culture of CARE is a united effort for our industry, which I support wholeheartedly. This program addresses the industry’s unique needs to implement a strategy which creates a diverse and inclusive atmosphere with the ability to expand over time.” – Byron Haselden, CEO, Haselden Construction, AGC of Colorado’s Chairman of the Board “As a woman working in a predominantly male industry, I hope to demonstrate to others that there are opportunities in the construction industry for those who want to get involved and make a difference as our industry rapidly expands. I am proud of my company for tak- ing the pledge early on and I am proud that next year I will be the second-ever female chair and the fourth-ever Specialty Contractor chair for AGC Colo- rado. What a great example AGC Colorado is setting of inclusion and diversity. This initiative is so important that I will commit to person- ally reaching out to AGC/C members who haven’t signed the pledge and ask them to consider joining the Culture of CARE movement.” – Sherri Lindsey, VP of sales and market- ing, Concepts in Millwork, Inc., AGC of Colorado’s vice chair of the board “Having grown up in the industry working for Gilmore, which is a minority contractor, our personal beliefs in equality and opportunity have always aligned with the Culture of CARE. It has afforded us to give opportunities to those that found challenges when trying to work with companies that didn’t truly believe in what Culture of CARE means. We continue to hold fast to those beliefs and hope that we can continue to help those that have not been as fortunate as us.” – Justin Gilmore, business development manager, Gilmore Construction Corp. “To me, the Culture of CARE means that I have an opportu- nity to personally commit to making a difference while pro- moting a more competitive and enhanced business landscape. For too many years, our coun- try has stymied the importance of skilled trades and construc- tion related careers. As a for- mer high-voltage lineman, I recognize and appreciate the value of our trades – working in the operational side of things has made me a more rounded individual and business lead- er. My personal pledge is to support and invest in anyone, regardless of background or circumstances, who is passion- ate and eager to be a part of our industry.” – Drew Rippel, MCA, business development manager, The Weitz Co . “As the executive director of the Hispanic Contractors of Colorado, I proudly represent an organization that advo- cates for diversity, inclusion and equity on a daily basis. HCC has long stood for the need for equal treatment and equal access to both resourc- es and economic opportunity for our businesses. Extending the sentiments that we have been advocating for through the Culture of Care, with a for- malized commitment, is a true testament of what our entire industry can achieve together. It is our moral obligation to confront these issues as leaders in the construction industry – committing to the Culture of CARE shows that we are in this together.” – Chris Martinez, executive director, Hispanic Con- tractors of Colorado “A company should support the Culture of CARE pledge as a way to demonstrate inter- nally to its employees, and externally to its clients and partners that they are seri- ous about principles of the pledge. The American Council of Engineering Companies of Colorado’s (ACEC Colorado) long-established culture has been to support diversity and inclusion within the organi- zation and membership spe- cially to encourage and sup- port advancement within one’s career. It’s important to me and the Council that we pro- vide opportunities, tools and mentoring for an individual to reach their full potential.” – Marilen Reimer, CAE, executive director, The American Council of Engineering Companies of Colo- rado “The Culture of CARE pro- gram is an initiative that we, at the Colorado Contractors Association, wholehearted- ly support. CCA has already taken the pledge and is encour- aging our members to sign on as well. Our industry needs to come together now, more than ever, and help break down bar- riers and recognize the need for change.” – T ony Milo, execu- tive director, Colorado Contrac- tors Association Take the pledge today build- and share your sto- ries about what the Culture of CARE means to you. s AGC Diversity Committee launches inclusivity program S ince it was enacted in 2006, the federal solar investment tax credit has helped support the growth of solar energy across the country by more than 10,000%, according to the Solar Energy IndustriesAssociation. This tax credit, as opposed to a deduction, allows commercial entities andhomeowners todirect- ly reduce their taxes due by an amount equal to 26% of the solar project price in 2020. The tax credit will step down over the next two years and will sunset to a per- manent 10% for commercial and utility-scale systems in 2022 and to 0% for residential systems. In order to secure the higher 2020 tax credit, a commercial proj- ect must be placed into service byDec. 31 or certain steps must be taken to ensure a safe harbor status for projects that won’t be completed by the end of the year. Let’s dig into the con- cept of safe harbor and how to ensure eligibility for the 26% solar tax credit before it steps down to 22% in 2021. n What is safe harbor? The IRS established a provision to the investment tax credit law called safe harbor, which allows com- mercial customers to preserve the tax credit of the current year by beginning construction on a solar project. The definition of what beginning construction means is at the heart of safe harbor and is what a prospective solar buyer should be aware of in considering a safe harbor strategy. There are two approaches that qualify as beginning construction. The first safe harbor strategy is to incur at least 5% of total project price, and the second is to begin physical work of a significant nature on a project. Both are con- sidered acceptable proof of begin- ning construction on a project. n Incur 5% of total project price. A commercial solar project is considered to have begun con- struction if at least 5% of the proj- ect price is incurred on qualifying equipment such as solar panels, racking and inverters. Verification requirements for equipment pur- chases vary based on the account- ingmethod of the taxpayer, but, in general, title transfer must occur within the given year to qualify. To safeguard against price fluc- tuations and because some items are custom to a project that has yet to be fully designed, the cleanest way to achieve safe harbor is to take title of the solar panels – about 20% of the project price. n Begin physical work of a significant nature. The term “physical work of a significant nature” refers to evidence that work has started on something qualitatively significant. Both on- site and off-sitework is considered acceptable and can be performed by the project owner, a contractor or a subcontractor. Either way, a binding contract must be in place that demonstrates a commercial entity’s assumption of risk. This option also refers to the procure- ment of components specific to the project, which are not nor- mally held in the manufacturer’s inventory such as custom rack- ing, carports and transformers. However, since the phrase “sig- Secure the 26% solar tax credit using safe harbor rules Michael Gifford, MPA, IOM President, Associated General Contractors of Colorado John Shaw Commercial and industrial solar developer, Namasté Solar Please see Shaw, Page 47