The Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors' National Association (SMACNA) strongly supports the recently introduced Building STAR legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

CHANTILLY, Va. – The Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors' National Association (SMACNA) strongly supports the recently introduced Building STAR legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

In a letter jointly co-signed with its labor partner the Sheet Metal Workers' International Association, SMACNA President John Lindemulder stated that “H.R. 5476, Building STAR is guaranteed to create thousands of construction jobs this year. Building STAR would help put people back to work retrofitting existing buildings, and would do so fast.

"The beauty of Building STAR is that rebate and tax incentive levels would be established in the legislation, rather than by agencies, making the payback for Building STAR almost immediate.”

In the current recession, no sector has been harder hit than the construction industry, which has lost far more than 2 million jobs since December 2007. H.R. 5476  legislation, introduced May 28, offers technology specific rebates that are based on proven utility rebate programs that already are helping improve the energy performance of buildings and homes, and will create and retain jobs.

Building STAR is a package of equipment and installation-based rebates and financing assistance to stimulate energy efficient retrofits and enhance the energy performance of commercial and multifamily residential buildings. It would quickly mobilize building owners, construction firms, the building trades, and manufacturers and distributors of building supplies to create jobs in 2010. 

"It is the right program at the right time for our economy for an industry with near historic unemployment across all sectors," President Lindemulder said.

Building STAR would:

Create at least 185,000 jobs in 2010. With a federal investment of $6 billion, Building STAR could spur total market activity of $15-$20 billion, based on experience with proven state and utility-run rebate programs. Applying job-creation ratios typical for commercial retrofits, a program of this size would create at least 185,000 construction, manufacturing and support jobs in 2010.

Work quickly. The technology-specific rebates in Building STAR are based on proven utility-run rebate programs that already are helping to improve the energy performance of homes and buildings, and to create and retain jobs. Rebate and tax incentive levels would be established in legislation, rather than by agencies, making it possible for Building STAR to hit the ground running.

Benefit America's small businesses. More than 90 percent of the contractors who perform commercial and multifamily building retrofits employ fewer than 20 workers. Even where large firms hold the primary contract, much of the work is subcontracted to smaller firms. Thousands of these firms would quickly rehire laid-off workers. Small businesses would also benefit from reduced energy bills. For example, a restaurant that cut its energy costs by 15 percent could increase profits by 30 percent, according to the EPA.

Provide opportunity to high-skilled workers and contractors. The commercial building sector employs sophisticated energy services contractors and highly skilled workers. Building STAR would provide opportunities for these workers and contractors during the current economic downturn, preserving skills essential to improve energy performance over time across our nation's entire stock of large buildings.

Reduce energy consumption and consumer costs. Building STAR will help overcome market barriers that block energy efficiency from occurring at a large scale. The size of commercial building retrofits ensures that we will reap large energy savings, reducing energy demand and driving down costs for everyone. Building STAR, H.R. 5476 (S. 3079), was developed by Rebuilding America, a SMACNA-supported coalition of more than 60 construction organizations, manufacturers, financial services companies, building trade unions, and efficiency advocates, in conjunction with a number of outside technical experts.

SMACNA, an international trade association representing 4,500 contributing contractor firms, is dedicated to promoting quality and excellence in the sheet metal and air conditioning industry. SMACNA has national offices in Chantilly, Va., outside of Washington, D.C., as well as on Capitol Hill.