AIA: Climate Bill or Not, Congress Can Still Act on Green Jobs and Energy Independence Print
Friday, 30 April 2010 13:58

In the wake of the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day, Congress finds itself struggling for ways to help make green jobs a reality and reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign sources of energy.

Meanwhile, already-introduced legislation that is waiting for action can help create or preserve a total of as many as 390,000 green jobs, AIA estimates. Clearly, Congress already has what it needs to fulfill that goal.  

“A number of bills have been introduced this session that command broad bipartisan support and could help create hundreds of thousands of jobs in the design and construction industries - and go a long way toward curbing energy use,” said AIA President George H. Miller, FAIA. “Congress has the tools at its disposal to pass such legislation; it just needs to use them.”
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“Whatever happens on the climate bill, Congress owes it to the American people to create sustainable jobs as quickly as possible and definitely prior to Election Day," said Miller.

Among the already-introduced bills that Congress can pass:

·         S. 3079, introduced by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR) would create a new federal program known as Building Star, under which building owners could receive rebates and low-cost financing options for energy-efficient renovations in existing buildings. This would stimulate work across the design and construction industry. AIA jobs creation estimate: 25,000 jobs in 2010 for every $1 billion of federal investment for the hard‐hit industry; 150,000 jobs with a $6 billion federal investment;

·         H.R. 2336, the GREEN Act, introduced by Rep Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) and Rep. Judy Biggert (R-IL), provides incentives to lenders and financial institutions to offer lower interest loans and other benefits to consumers who build, buy, or remodel their homes to make them more energy-efficient. Already voted out of committee on April 22, the Green Resources for Energy Efficient Neighborhoods Act is now headed for a floor vote. AIA jobs creation estimate: 140,000 jobs annually in the building industry:

·         H.R. 2187, the 21st century Green High Performing Public School Facilities Act, passed by the House in May 2009, almost included in final health care bill in April. Co-sponsored by Reps. George Miller (D-CA) and Ben Chandler (D-KY), it provides $6.4 billion in grants for states and local government to modernize school buildings, especially for the neediest students AIA jobs creation/preservation estimate: 100,000 jobs.

·         Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) bonds – bonds that are state-issued bonds where proceeds are lent to commercial and residential property owners to finance up front costs associated with energy retrofits or renewable energy generation. Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) has legislation that would allow DOE loan guarantees to be used to support state PACE initiatives. Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA) has legislation that amends the Internal Revenue Code to allow a tax exemption of the interest on bonds (like PACE bonds) issued to finance renewable energy resource facilities, conservation and efficiency facilities and projects, and zero emission vehicles and related facilities or projects.

On another front, more than 80 organizations led by the AIA and the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) have renewed their call on Congress to support increasing the Energy Efficient Commercial Building Tax Deduction from $1.80 per square foot to $3 per square foot in order to help stimulate immediate job creation.

“The entire construction industry accounts for billions of dollars nationwide, yet continues to suffer at near historic proportions,” said AIA Executive Vice President/CEO Christine McEntee. “Congress could have an immediate impact that will stimulate building design, construction and renovation across the country by enacting these measures as a package or one-by-one. Taken together, these initiatives could create as many as 400,000 jobs in an industry that is indispensable to the U.S. economic recovery - and make a significant down payment on energy reduction.”