Green Buildings: Stimulus For Schools, Facilities

Last week green building advocates pushed Congress to restore slashed stimulus funding to "green" schools and federal buildings, after cash was cut in a compromise leading up to the Senate economic recovery package vote last week.

In letters to congressional leaders, green building proponents urged lawmakers to fund school modernization projects and green federal building projects at levels stipulated in the House version of the economic stimulus package, which were substantially higher than those passed by the Senate.

President Obama supports such measures. In a press conference last week, Obama addressed critics of the spending.

"When people suggest that what a waste of money to make federal buildings more energy efficient—why would that be a waste of money?" Obama said. "We're creating jobs immediately by retrofitting these buildings or weatherizing 2 million Americans' homes, as was called for in the package. So that right there creates economic stimulus, and we are saving taxpayers, when it comes to federal buildings, potentially $2 billion."

The final legislation to be signed by President Obama this week includes $4.5 billion to convert federal building to high performance green buildings. In an important first step toward supporting green schools efforts, states are allowed to use up to $10 billion for green school modernization.

Environmental education advocates also sent a letter to conferees pushing for a strong investment in green jobs through education and training. Ultimately Congress made a major investment in such programs at the Department of Labor.

The $500 million down payment will help create the education and training infrastructure to ensure we have a well-trained green workforce to implement this green economic recovery package and repower America's economy.

Published: February 17, 2009