Recession Recovery and Climate Change

Despite a significant rebound from 2007-11 recessions, which hammered construction industry employment, many people are still struggling to find work. With the threat of climate change on the horizon, our economy is bound to be in for some major changes in the near future. These two issues are inextricably tied together.

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) recently introduced the “Energy-Efficient Cool Roofs Jobs Act”, (S. 2388) The legislation seeks to spur job creation in the construction segment while also improving the efficiency of our buildings. The bill is estimated to incentivize the creation of nearly 40,000 jobs.

Besides the obvious direct economic benefit of job creation and cost savings for consumers, the bill is vital to the fight against climate change. Renewable energy technologies often get the top billing in discussions about reducing carbon emissions. While they are certainly central to this goal, energy efficiency is of equal or, arguably, greater importance. Estimates show that this legislation has the potential to reduce carbon emissions by 800,000 metric tons annually. This reduction is not achieved by radically changing the nation’s energy infrastructure but simply by ensuring that buildings are held to the best standards and built using the best materials on the market today (including polyiso insulation).

Although the Sheehan-Portman bill has been repeatedly stalled in the Senate, Sen. Cardin’s energy-efficiency legislation has the potential to break the gridlock in Washington. In fact, this legislation was co-sponsored by Senators Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.) while a companion bill has been introduced in the House by Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) and Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.). Speaking about the bill, Sen. Cardin said, “We don’t need to choose between good jobs and helping the environment; we can do both with the same policy.” I couldn’t agree more.

This blog first appeared on PIMA’s Polyiso Blog.

About the Author

Jared O. Blum
Jared O. Blum is Washington counsel for the EPDM Roofing Association.

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