As Congress begins considering the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) expresses encouragement of the initial draft version of the bill released yesterday by the House Appropriations Committee – but believes that Congress needs to do more to ensure that the stimulus achieves its goals of job creation and a 21st century infrastructure.
The draft proposal advocates for energy-efficient upgrades for a cross-section of buildings, which account for nearly half of all U.S. energy use, including schools, homes, federal and private sector buildings, and healthcare facilities.
Recently, the AIA sent detailed recommendations  to Congress and the transition team outlining specific measures for the design of 21st century schools, green commercial, residential and institutional buildings, historic preservation projects, transit and mixed use development projects that will lead to the creation of 1.6 million jobs in the construction industry.
In order to achieve the President-elect’s stated goal of energy-efficient upgrades for 75% of all federal buildings, the AIA believes that there needs to be more money than the proposed $6 billion that have been allocated in the proposed bill. There should also be more incentives to green commercial office buildings that will lead to the creation of more private sector jobs, as well achieve greater energy savings.
“While optimistic that the proposed stimulus bill is going to help accelerate the greening of our nation’s homes, buildings and communities, we strongly urge Congress to ensure that the plan provides for long-term projects in addition to ‘shovel ready’ projects,” said AIA vice president, Government and Community Relations, Paul Mendelsohn. “By also looking at what projects can be implemented over the next two years, we have a tremendous opportunity to make a positive impact on our built environment that will last for decades.”
Eight of the leading design professional groups have sent a letter  to Congress urging that the plan include a mix of “shovel-ready” and long-term projects.
The AIA has stringent criteria for determining the actual energy-efficiency of buildings and has a local presence in almost 300 communities nationwide. With relationships with governors, mayors and county officials, the AIA is offering its resources and consultation to the new administration to help ensure the American tax payers will get the greatest benefit from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.