by John Boling
Legislation that will provide jobs and other ancillary benefits to the industry over the coming years passed the House of Representatives on November 5, 2021. Specifically, the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA)—also called the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework (BIF) because it was crafted by a group of 21 senators from both parties—reauthorizes the nation’s infrastructure programs while at the same time providing a once-in-a-generation pot of additional revenue to bring the nation’s ailing infrastructure into the 21st century. A presidential signing ceremony was scheduled for November 15.
Just over half of the total amount will be allocated to the states for their existing infrastructure programs over the next five years, and $550 billion of new money will be allocated to the states for expanding and upgrading the nation’s roads, transit, airports, utilities, water infrastructure and more.
IIBEC endorsed the bill along with a broad swath of the sector precisely because the construction industry will serve a critical role in performing the work to upgrade and expand the aging nation’s infrastructure. For example, the funding in the bill could pay for new or remodeled mass transit terminals, airport terminals and hangers, regular maintenance or new state transportation buildings, upgrades of port infrastructure, or water and energy utility buildings, depending on the state’s needs and plans.
While it will make little headway on the current supply chain crisis, an improved transportation system will help stave off future problems. With the funds to be allocated over the next five years (versus a lump sum), expect the first batch of new contracts to drop in the spring of 2022.
Other provisions in the bill that are generally supported by IIBEC or have the potential to lead to job opportunities for IIBEC members are:
- $250 million for a new energy efficiency grant program to finance energy efficiency retrofits and energy audits for commercial and residential buildings;
- $225 million for a grant program within the DOE Building Technologies Office to enable cost-effective implementation of updated building energy codes;
- $40 million for the energy auditor training program that can be used to train individuals to conduct energy audits or surveys of commercial and residential buildings;
- $500 million for a grant program to finance energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements at public schools;
- $50 million for a pilot program to award grants to provide nonprofit buildings with energy efficiency retrofits;
- $550 million for the existing DOE Energy Efficiency & Conversation Block Grant Program.
IIBEC applauds lawmakers for passing this historic, bipartisan legislation, and will now focus our attention on the agencies to ensure that the legislation is implemented fairly and according to law.