Crunch time for infrastructure legislation

construction site

Groundbreaking infrastructure legislation has cleared one hurdle, but it’s not over the finish line yet. The next few weeks on Capitol Hill are pivotal, and it’s critical that architects keep up our campaign to remind policymakers that buildings are infrastructure.  

The bipartisan “Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act,” which passed the Senate in August, includes numerous AIA policy priorities to improve safety, resilience, and sustainability in the built environment. Key provisions include:

  • Providing $3.5 billion in funding for the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Weatherization Assistance Program, which increases energy efficiency and reduces costs for low-income households.
  • Authorizing $500 million in competitive grants to support energy-efficiency and renewable energy in schools.
  • Allocating $1 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) program.
  • Allocating $500 million for grants established from the Safeguarding Tomorrow through Ongoing Risk Mitigation Act (STORM Act), which mitigates hazards to reduce risks from disasters.
  • Providing $250 million in funding to establish the Energy Efficiency Revolving Loan Fund Capitalization Grant Program, which states could use to improve the energy efficiency of residential and commercial buildings.
  • Establishing a $225 million competitive grant program within the DOE's Building Technologies Office to support cost-effective building code implementation.

The bill, which now moves to the House for consideration, is a significant step forward in recognizing buildings – homes, schools, hospitals, and civic centers – as critical infrastructure. Additionally, the Senate is expected to advance a second infrastructure package through the Budget Reconciliation process this fall.

As Congress negotiates both bills over the next few weeks, it’s a crucial time for architects to let their representatives in the House and Senate know where the profession stands. AIA is calling for passage of both bills and urging lawmakers to include greater funding for building improvements in the Budget Reconciliation package.

Architects have sent thousands of messages to Congress, and we’ve made the case through two strategic op-ed placements. AIA President Peter Exley’s “U.S. building infrastructure needs 21st century upgrades” was published in The Hill in July. AIA West Virginia’s Adam Krason penned “Public buildings are infrastructure, too,” which was published in August by the Charleston Gazette-Mail to reach Sen. Joe Manchin – one of the infrastructure debate’s most influential negotiators.

Nothing is more effective to persuade lawmakers than direct messages from their constituents. AIA encourages all architects to speak up through our latest Action Alert.

Investments to make buildings more sustainable and resilient has never been more urgent. Hurricane Ida’s trail of destruction from Louisiana and Mississippi to New Jersey and New York demonstrates two important realities: climate change is driving more extreme weather, and U.S. infrastructure isn’t ready.

Click here to email your members of Congress today to remind them: Buildings are infrastructure.

Image credits

construction site

Getty Images

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