AIA Develops Plan to Stimulate Economy and Create 1.6 Million Jobs in Building Sector

March 3, 2009

WASHINGTON, Jan. 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/-- The American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) semi-annual Consensus Construction Forecast projects an 11-percent decline in design and construction activity in 2009. To revitalize the building sector, which accounts for about $1 in every $10 of the United States GDP, the AIA developed the Rebuild and Renew Plan, which details its recommendations for the allocation of funds in President Obama’s economic-recovery plan. The AIA is calling on the new administration and Congress to create policies that ensure these monies are spent on the planning, design, and construction of energy-efficient, sustainable buildings and healthy communities that are advantageous for the environment and economy. If implemented correctly, the nearly $100 billion plan would create 1.6 million jobs throughout the design and construction industry.

Recent reports estimate that the economic-recovery package may total $800 billion, with at least $350 billion dedicated to infrastructure projects; however, the AIA’s recommendations call for longer planning and design periods for projects to help ensure that they’re carried out in the most effective, cost-efficient manner, and that funds aren’t poorly spent due to the projects being hastily planned and executed. Providing funding for projects across 24 months will ensure a steady stream of funds for job creation over the likely life of the recession.

The plan is comprised of five key policy areas for immediate attention: 21st-century schools; green commercial, residential, and institutional buildings; historic-preservation projects; transit, mixed use development and complete streets projects; and tax relief for businesses. Highlights from the plan include:

  • 21st-Century Schools. As the costs of energy and construction materials continue to increase, and budgets get tighter, education agencies are further delaying or canceling major projects to repair and modernize school buildings. The AIA is calling for the federal government to invest $25 billion in districts across the country to repair, modernize, and green school buildings. Additionally, it’s proposing $700 million for pilot programs that would provide grants for the development of model school campuses that support 21st-century teaching and learning in each region of the country. This proposal would create more than 445,000 jobs across the industry.
  • Green Buildings. The current economic crisis presents an opportunity to build better public, residential, and commercial architectural designs. This requires investing in the types of full-scale retrofits that can significantly reduce a building’s carbon footprint. The AIA is calling for the federal government to provide $30 billion for energy-efficiency upgrades and modernization for federal, state, and local public buildings; residential, commercial, industrial, and healthcare facilities; and green affordable housing. Appropriating these funds would result in the creation of 430,000 jobs. In addition, the AIA is calling for increasing the size of the energy-efficient commercial buildings tax deduction from $1.80 per square foot to $3.00 per square foot, and this recommendation was just endorsed by the Environment America Research & Policy Center.
  • Transit and Livable Communities. A lack of investment in our infrastructure system since the New Deal has limited economic growth and jeopardized the safety of American citizens. As Congress prepares to create legislation that stimulates the economy, the AIA believes that it’s important to invest at least $12 billion for transit facilities and operations, since they greatly enhance the economic development, sustainability, safety, and livability of communities. Funding for transit-oriented projects will create compact, walkable communities that mix housing, retail, office space, and other amenities around high-quality train systems, and create approximately 375,000 jobs for the building and construction industry.
  • Historic-Preservation Projects. The preservation of historic buildings already in the development phase will create more work for the building industry and generate positive economic returns in the communities surrounding them. The plan calls for the appropriation of at least $30 million to the under-funded Save America’s Treasure program for bricks-and-mortar preservation projects. The plan also calls for another $100 million in grants to be provided through the State Historic Preservation Officers and Tribal Historic Preservation Officers for non-federal public and non-profit historic sites.
  • Tax Relief for Businesses. By accelerating the depreciation of energy-efficient heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, or commercial refrigeration property installed in nonresidential property or residential rental property, businesses of all sizes would be able to improve their operations, reduce costs, and reduce energy consumption. The AIA is also calling for elimination of a requirement that businesses that perform government work have 3 percent of their payments withheld.

For more information on the AIA’s Rebuild and Renew plan, or to download the full report, visit http://www.aia.org/rebuildandrenew.

Contact: Matt Tinder

202-626-7462

[email protected]

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