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December 11, 2009 - Joint Letter - Jobs for Main Street Act

December 11, 2009

The Honorable Ben Chandler
U.S. House of Representatives
1504 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Congressman Chandler:

We, the undersigned organizations, write in strong support of inclusion of green high-performing school facilities in the upcoming jobs package.

Although recent economic figures have indicated modest economic improvements, the unemployment rate continues to hover at 10% and many more Americans remain underemployed-- facing staggering financial pressures on a daily basis. An economic bill focused on the creation of jobs is crucial for communities where persistent unemployment undermines the hope for a broad economic recovery.

Proposed tax incentives for small businesses, expanded investments in infrastructure, and policies to encourage innovation in green technologies will help to drive job growth. Incentives to retrofit buildings with energy efficiency upgrades will spur demand for new equipment, appliances and building materials, create work for construction trades, raise property values, reduce energy use and save money. Public institutions and schools need to be part of this effort. Upgrading safety features, improving indoor air quality, reducing building operational costs and the impact on local natural resources are simply good stewardship of taxpayer dollars. K-12 schools are particularly critical. Healthy indoor environments are necessary for learning, and schools are perfect places to showcase green technologies.

More importantly, America’s school buildings are in desperate need of repair. A study released in December 2008 by the American Federation of Teachers estimates that school-infrastructure needs exceed $250 billion nationally. Too many of America’s children attend school in overcrowded buildings with leaky roofs, faulty electrical systems, and outdated technology -- all of which compromise their ability to achieve, succeed, and develop the educational skills necessary for the workforce of the 21st Century.

The design, construction, and renovation of green, high-performing schools not only improve the learning environment for students, attracts and retains good teachers, and creates jobs. Green jobs in the retrofitting industry will be local and difficult to offshore. Investment in these jobs will remain grounded in the local economy. Furthermore, jobs in the green retrofit industry provide opportunities for advancement and growth. They are key to the long term economic recovery.

Intrinsically, schools are an investment in our collective future, ensuring that tomorrow’s leaders are prepared to meet the significant challenges our nation will face. As we work to steer our economy out of decline and toward a vibrant future, it is critical that we grasp this opportunity to ensure high-quality learning environments for our children.

For these reasons, we urge inclusion of green high-performing school facilities in the upcoming jobs package.

Sincerely,
U.S. Green Building Council
American Association of Classified School Employees
The American Institute of Architects (AIA)
American Planning Association
American Society of Civil Engineers
The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRE)
American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA)
The Blue/Green Alliance
Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO
The Campaign for Environmental Literacy
Council of Educational Facility Planners International (CEFPI)
Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI)
Global Green USA
Green For All
Ingersoll Rand
Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA)
National Energy Management Institute
The National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS)
National Roofing Contractors Association
The National School Plant Management Association
Plumbing – Heating – Cooling Contractors – National Association
Project FROG
Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors National Association, Inc. (SMACNA)
The Sheet Metal Workers' International Association
The Stella Group, Ltd.
United Steelworkers Union
21st Century School Fund