Senators on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee discussed Building STAR and Home Star today in a hearing with Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Cathy Zoi, and representatives from state governments, consumer groups, contractors, and real estate advocacy groups. Senator Jeff Merkley opened with a statement on Building STAR, emphasizing the job-creation benefits, especially to small businesses. “More than 90% of construction firms employ fewer than 20 people, and more than 60% of the manufacturers that create the materials and equipment for retrofits employ fewer than 20 people,” Senator Merkley noted.
Jeffrey DeBoer, CEO of the Real Estate Roundtable, testified on behalf of the Building STAR coalition. He reiterated Senator Merkley’s point about the benefits to small businesses, and went on to say that, “A study by [the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy] indicates that by the end of 2011, approximately 9% of all U.S. commercial buildings in America would receive some benefit from [the Building Star] program. This would yield about $3.3 billion in energy savings.”
With unemployment in the 25-27% range for the construction industry, there is a dire need for the fast-acting Building STAR program, which would create 150,000 to 200,000 jobs in 2010. Assistant Secretary Cathy Zoi stated that, “Nearly 2 million construction jobs have been lost since December 2007.” The best way to help ameliorate the unemployment in this sector is to put those men and women back to work installing energy efficient retrofits in homes and buildings across the country.
Building STAR, which was introduced just one week ago by Senators Jeff Merkley, Sherrod Brown, Benjamin Cardin, Mark Pryor, Bernie Sanders, and Debbie Stabenow, consists of a combination of rebates and tax incentives designed to increase the energy efficiency of commercial and multi-family residential buildings.
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