The economic stimulus bill recently signed into law by President Obama will provide billions of dollars in funding for modernization of schools, the “greening” of federal buildings, expansion of mass transit, construction and energy-efficiency upgrades of housing, and a number of other building and construction priorities.
The AIA is calling the bill—formally titled the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act—a “down payment” on the total investments needed for modernization and upgrading of the nation’s infrastructure. The institute took an active role in making recommendations to the Obama administration on the specific funding priorities of the stimulus bill, and developed the “Rebuild and Renew Plan,” detailing recommendations for the allocation of funds in President Obama’s economic-recovery program.
A report issued by the AIA Government Advocacy Group provides a breakdown of the funding provisions that will impact the design and construction market. The provisions include the following, with AIA “Renew and Rebuild” priorities indicated with an asterisk (*).
* State Stabilization Fund—$53.6 billion. States must use at least 83% of the funding ($40 billion) to provide aid to local school districts. Local school districts may use funds for school modernization, renovation and repair, including modernization, renovation and repair consistent with a recognized green rating system.
Governors may use up to 17% ($8.2 billion) on allocations for “public safety and other governmental services, which may include educational services and higher education modernization, renovation, and repair activities… which may include modernization, renovation, and repairs consistent with a recognized green building rating system.”
Aside from facility modernization, states and school districts can use this funding for activities authorized under the Elementary and Secondary Ed. Act (ESEA), IDEA (disabled students), and the Perkins Act.
General Services Administration
* $4.5 billion for greening federal buildings
* $8.4 billion
Other facilities improvements
$6.5 Billion for Department of Defense Facilities
$1.5 Billion for NIH Facilities (National Institutes of Health)
$1.2 Billion for VA Facilities
$4.6 billion for home weatherization
* $6.3 billion in Energy and Conservation Block Grants
$3.1 billion to support utility sponsored energy efficiency programs and energy-efficient building codes
HUD (Housing and Urban Development)
* $2.25 billion public/assisted housing stability and energy efficiency
* $2.25 billion for HOME program to build affordable housing
$2.0 billion in neighborhood stabilization funding to purchase foreclosed and abandoned homes
* $4.0 billion to Public Housing Capital Fund (emphasis on improving energy efficiency in aging facilities
Tax provisions (buildings/housing/schools)
First-time home buyer credit: First-time homebuyers will be able to claim an $8,000 tax credit for the purchase of the home. In the past, this credit was treated as an interest-free loan. The bill eliminates the repayment obligation.
Qualified school construction bonds—$22 billion: The bill creates a new category of tax bonds for the construction, rehabilitation, or repair of public school facilities or for the acquisition of land where the facility will be constructed.
Qualified zone academy bonds—$1.4 billion: Can be used to finance renovations, equipment purposes, developing course material, and training teachers.
Qualified energy conservation bonds—$2.4 billion: Used to finance state, municipal, and tribal governments in initiatives designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Recovery zone facility bonds—$15 billion: For investment in infrastructure, job training, education, and economic recovery. Money is distributed based on need (states that lost the most jobs in 2008 get the most money).
Tax credits for energy-efficient improvements to existing homes: Extends the credits for energy-efficient residential property through 2010. Increases the amount of the credit for qualified property from 10% to 30%.
Grants in lieu of tax credits for low-income housing program.