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Building STAR: encouraging energy efficient development

Building STAR will encouarage green retrofitsJob creation legislation rewards retrofits

The Building STAR Energy Efficiency Rebate Act of 2010 was introduced last month in Washington. The job creation bill’s goal is to “jumpstart manufacturing and get the building trades back to work,” according to an Energy Future Coalition press release. The bill will reward developers installing energy saving equipment in commercial and multifamily buildings across the country by providing rebates and financial incentives to them.

Unemployment in the construction industry has been particularly hard hit during this recession.Today estimates are 1 in 5 construction workers is out of work (over 1.7 million). The money will be used to hire laid off trades workers and “stimulate $18 to 24 billion in total investment, resulting in more than 150,000 new jobs.”

Making Green Sexy

The E.F.C. cites statistics that “more than 90% of the construction firms that will be undertaking Building STAR retrofits employ fewer than 20 people, this program will be a boon to small businesses around the country that have been hardest hit by the economic downturn.”

The group says that with a $6 billion federal investment, Building STAR would create at least 150,000 jobs, making this a great model for a public-private partnership and maximizing resource efficacy.

The rebate program will be accessed by a simple application that building owners will fill out. The rebates would cover approximately 30% of the cost of retrofitting a building to install energy efficient items. Commercial buildings consume about 40% of the nation’s energy usage.

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Lots of support from tradesmen

Over 80 trades groups, unions, and construction-related groups are on board pushing this bill to be approved, including the U.S. Green Building Council.

The Building STAR program is a sibling to the government’s Home STAR program, which offers similar incentives to home owners to implement green energy strategies in their homes.  It’s also a play on words of the EPA’s Energy STAR initiative, and that familiar star logo we all look for when purchasing a new washer or refrigerator.

If agents have an old dinosaur of a building, this would be a creative way to market the building to developers. Encourage them to install energy efficient heating and cooling systems, windows, etc., and they can cash in on at least part of the cost–if the bill makes it through to become law. With so many unions and PAC’s lobbying for it, and with the green movement so strong right now, it’s a good bet it just might come to pass.

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Written By

Erica Ramus is the Broker/Owner of Ramus Realty Group in Pottsville, PA. She also teaches real estate licensing courses at Penn State Schuylkill and is extremely active in her community, especially the Rotary Club of Pottsville and the Schuylkill Chamber of Commerce. Her background is writing, marketing and publishing, and she is the founder of Schuylkill Living Magazine, the area's regional publication. She lives near Pottsville with her husband and two teenage sons, and an occasional exchange student passing thru who needs a place to stay.


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