Building Star Legislation Could Create New
Jobs Through Energy-Efficient Renovations
March 5, 2010
Recently introduced legislation that could help spur new jobs for
the construction industry has seen favorable response from members
of the glass and fenestration industries. Senators Jeff Merkley
(D-Ore.) and Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) introduced the "Builidng Star"
bill yesterday, which is designed to create jobs by promoting the
installation of energy-efficient renovations in commercial and multi-family
residential buildings. Merkley and Pryor were joined by Senators
Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Bernie Sanders
(I-Vt.), and Ben Cardin (D-Md.) as original co-sponsors of the legislation.
By utilizing rebates and low-interest loans, the "Building
Star" program leverages between two and three dollars in private
investment for every federal dollar spent.
"Buildings represent 40 percent of the energy used in the United
States, and many have old equipment that waste energy and money,"
says Senator Pryor. "Investing in energy efficiency retrofits
for industrial, commercial and multi-family buildings can drive
economic recovery by saving small businesses money, spurring construction
and manufacturing, and creating hundreds of thousands of good jobs
The rebates would cover approximately 30 percent of the cost of
installing energy-efficient products and/or providing related services.
Windows, for example, must have a maximum U-factor and solar heat
gain coefficient as certified to National Fenestration Rating Council
standards. Curtainwall and storefront windows would not be eligible
for the rebate.
"On the surface, the Building Star program certainly appears
to have the potential to provide significant benefits to GANA members,
however, we will continue to monitor the details of this proposed
legislation as they become available," says Bill Yanek, executive
vice president of the Glass Association of North America (GANA).
"Significant energy savings could be realized through energy-efficient
renovations in commercial and multi-family residential buildings
that focuses on energy efficient glass and glazing. Hopefully, efforts
such as this will spur groups such as ASHRAE to recognize that glass
needs to remain a central factor in energy efficient building and
that efforts to reduce glazing area are misdirected and harmful
to energy savings."
Rich Walker, president and chief executive office of the American
Architectural Manufacturers Association also sees the legislation
as a positive step.
"Spurring retrofits of commercial and multi-family buildings
through Building Star can start to reverse the downward trend in
construction and manufacturing by leveraging private-sector investment
to create jobs," Rich Walker. "We believe the Building
Star program should be included in the federal 'jobs bill' because
it would help create at least 150,000 high-quality jobs during 2010
in every part of the country. We encourage individuals to contact
their Senators to express support for the bill."
"Building Star" is expected to begin creating jobs immediately
and is projected to create as many as 150,000 jobs in some of the
economy's hardest-hit sectors including the construction industry,
over the next two years. In addition, "Building Star"
is expected to save building owners more than $3 billion on their
energy bills annually by reducing enough peak electricity demand
to avoid the need for thirty-three 300-megawatt power plants. It
will also reduce the pollution that contributes to climate change
by 21 million metric tons, or the equivalent of nearly 4 million
cars' emissions each year, according to the American Council for
an Energy-Efficient Economy.
"Building Star" is similar to "Home Star," a
parallel program put forward by Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M),
Mark Warner (D-Va.), Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.)
that offers energy-efficiency assistance to homeowners. President
Barack Obama announced his support earlier this week for the "Home
Star" program, including the financing options recommended
by Senator Merkley.
The financing components of "Building Star" and "Home
Star" were first put forward when Merkley and Senator Richard
Lugar (R-Ind.) introduced the Consumer and Business Clean Energy
Financing Act of 2009.
HERE to learn more about the Building Star program.
Need more info and analysis about the issues?
HERE to subscribe to USGlass magazine.