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 across America."

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.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the Building Star program.

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