April 30, 2010

Gillibrand Announces Legislation To Renovate Over 50 Million Buildings & Homes Nationwide, Create Nearly 320,000 New Construction Jobs, Save Millions On Energy Costs

Niagara Falls, NY U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced support for a new effort to create jobs and improve the air we breathe and the water we drink by renovating buildings and homes across the nation to make them more energy efficient. With approximately 15 percent of construction workers out of work in New York, Gillibrand’s new effort tackles two of our nation’s biggest challenges: unemployment and energy consumption.

The new programs called “Building STAR” and “Home STAR” would renovate 50 million buildings and 3.3 million homes by 2020, making them more energy efficient. Combined, these efforts would reduce pollution that destroys our lungs and our atmosphere, save more than $3 billion each year on energy costs, and create as many as 318,000 sustainable jobs over the next 10 years.

“These solutions will not only create jobs for people who are ready to go to work, but will protect the air we breathe and the water we drink,” Senator Gillibrand said.  “If we’re going to rebuild our economy, we have to improve the energy efficiency of our homes, and bring our outdated buildings into the 21st century. Building STAR and Home STAR will help renovate millions of businesses and homes in America, cutting pollution, while saving millions of dollars on energy costs and creating hundreds of thousands of new, good-paying jobs.”

“When you have a single set of programs that simultaneously address several of our country's most pressing issues, you know you have a winner.  That's why the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program has been so popular with the nation's mayors.  And that is why mayors all across New York State are going to be enthusiastic about Senator Gillibrand's legislation to create the Building STAR and Home STAR programs,” said Niagara Falls Mayor Paul A. Dyster. “By providing incentives to make homes and other buildings more energy efficient, we simultaneously benefit the environment, reduce energy costs and create new ‘green collar’ jobs in construction and related industries.  As mayor, I am honored that Senator Gillibrand has chosen Niagara Falls as the backdrop for this major policy announcement.  The Falls is one of our world's best-known symbols of the natural environment, and we as a city are totally committed to going ‘gree’" in the 21st Century.  Through the Senator's efforts, we can now look forward to adding potent new weapons to our arsenal in the fight to reduce pollution, save energy costs and create jobs right here in our own community.  We thank her for her vision and dedication, and especially for choosing to highlight our strong support of her initiative by launching here today.”

Today, more than one in four construction workers in America and approximately 15 percent of construction workers in New York have lost their jobs by no fault of their own. Since the recession began, more than 3.7 million construction and manufacturing jobs have been lost. New York State alone lost more than 40,000 construction jobs, nearly 12 percent of New York’s construction workforce.

Building STAR and Home STAR would create tens of thousands of new construction jobs across New York, save New York businesses up to $550 million and save New York families up to $355 million on energy-saving renovations. In Western New York, Building STAR would help businesses save up to $16 million and Home STAR would help families save up to $35 million on energy-saving renovations.

Renovating Buildings
Buildings in the U.S. are responsible for 39 percent of the pollution that destroys our lungs and our atmosphere, 40 percent of energy use, 13 percent of water use and 15 percent of GDP per year. Improving efficiency of buildings offers a significant opportunity to save on energy and reduce pollution. 

Under Building STAR, $6 billion would be invested to renovate 50 million commercial and residential buildings, and create at least 150,000 new construction jobs and more than 55,000 jobs in emerging energy technologies across America by 2020, protecting our environment, while helping to rebuild our economy and make America more energy independent. 

Building STAR provides rebates that would cover approximately 30 percent of the cost of making a broad range of energy-saving improvements to commercial and residential buildings. According to the Alliance to Save Energy, every dollar invested in energy efficiency projects saves $3 in energy use. A Building STAR investment of $6.3 million in New York from 2012 to 2019 could save nearly $20 million in energy costs in the long-term.

Renovating Homes
Home STAR is comprised of two smaller programs:  the Gold Star program that provides assistance for major upgrades, such as heating and cooling, weatherization, and the Silver Star program that provides assistance for smaller upgrades, such as air sealing, wall insulations, windows, and doors. Home STAR would establish a $6 billion rebate program that would give homeowners up to $3,500 to cover up to half of the total cost of making whole-home energy efficiency renovations and investing in energy efficient appliances, helping more than 3 million American homes cut their energy use. The environmental impact of Home STAR would be the equivalent of taking 615,000 cars off our roads.

Home STAR would also encourage homeowners to make larger energy-saving investments to their homes by providing $4,000 for approved projects that reduce energy consumption by 20 percent, and $1,500 for every additional 5 percent reduction in energy consumption.

Home STAR would help families save nearly $10 million on their home energy costs over 10 years and create nearly 170,000 new jobs, while protecting our environment.

Based on previous funding formulas, New York alone would gain more than 12,500 new construction jobs renovating buildings and homes across the state, putting construction workers back to work, helping building owners and businesses save millions by reducing their energy consumption, and revitalizing entire communities.