Industry groups connected to building design and construction are applauding the Obama Administration’s announcement of a $4 billion public/private-sector plan to upgrade the energy efficiency of buildings around the country.
But one of the groups—the American Institute of Architects—says more is needed to give the hard-hit construction industry a real boost.
| AIA President Clark Manus|
AIA President Clark Manus, FAIA, said in a statement issued by the institute that “much more can be done to create jobs in this sector. In the coming weeks, the AIA and other members of the design and construction industry will unveil a broad-based initiative to do just that.”
President Obama, saying the nation “can’t wait for Congress to act,” on Friday announced nearly $4 billion in combined federal and private-sector energy upgrades to buildings over the next two years. (See Presidents Past, Present Join in Touting Expanded Building-Upgrade Plans.)
The President said the investments “will save billions in energy costs, promote energy independence, and, according to independent estimates, create tens of thousands of jobs in the hard-hit construction sector.”
The $4 billion investment includes a $2 billion commitment, made through the issuance of a Presidential Memorandum, to energy upgrades of federal buildings using long-term energy savings to pay for up-front costs, at no cost to taxpayers, the White House said.
In addition, the President’s announcement said 60 corporate CEOs, mayors, university presidents, and labor leaders have committed to investing nearly $2 billion of private capital into energy-efficiency projects, and to upgrade energy performance by a minimum of 20% by 2020 in 1.6 billion square feet of office, industrial, municipal, hospital, university, community college, and school buildings.
Joining President Obama in making the announcement—part of the Administration’s “Better Buildings Initiative”—was former President Bill Clinton. The Clinton Global Initiative, launched in 2005, is supporting the Better Buildings program as part of the organization’s mission of seeking solutions to “the world’s most pressing problems.”
In the AIA statement, Manus called the White House announcement “an important step in helping make buildings more efficient and create jobs at the same time.” He said the “Better Buildings Challenge complements AIA’s June announcement with the Clinton Global Initiative to develop a database of stalled projects suitable for investor financing, as well as AIA members’ commitment to make buildings progressively more and more energy efficient toward the 2030 commitment. Thanks to these funding commitments, AIA architects are poised to design the next generation of green buildings.”
Also throwing its support behind the $4 billion Better Buildings investment plans was the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA). The Better Buildings investment program, combined with the recent Congressional repeal of the 3% withholding mandate for government contractors, are “positive steps” that “strengthen the American workforce and economy," said AAMA President and CEO Rich Walker.