As many as 270,000 design and construction jobs could be created or saved if building-related provisions in the American Clean Energy Security Act become law. That’s according to a recent analysis of the legislation by the American Institute of Architects, conducted at the prompting of Senate majority leader Harry Reid.

The AIA study specifically examined two key provisions in the act: The Green Resources for Energy Efficient Neighborhoods (GREEN) program and the State Energy and Environment Development (SEED) program. 

Under the GREEN program umbrella, funding would be authorized for a range of high-performance new construction and retrofit projects. A residential energy efficiency block grant program would support energy efficiency improvements to single-family and multifamily housing. A sustainable low-income community grant program would channel funds through HUD to eligible community development and youth service organizations, as well as conservation corps, to make energy-efficient improvements in low-income housing. 

The GREEN program would also authorize state loans to provide incentives to real estate owners who add energy conservation and renewable energy systems to homes, commercial buildings, and institutional property. HUD would also have the ability to guarantee mortgages for homes incorporating sustainable building features. (Qualified borrowers would have to demonstrate quantifiable savings from green features to receive such financing.)

The SEED program would authorize the use of cap-and-trade allowances for energy-efficient design, construction, and renovation projects. Funds distributed through community development organizations would provide financing for sustainable building and energy conservation projects, including building retrofits, in low-income areas.  Project funding would go toward physical design and construction, as well as technical assistance and green job training for low-income residents. 

“We have been actively calling for investments in infrastructure that create greener buildings, vibrant communities, and a 21st century transportation network that is good for both the environment and the economy,” said AIA executive vice president and CEO Christine McEntee. “Investing in such projects will both create jobs and reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions from the built environment.”

Proposed by House Energy and Commerce committee chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and fellow U.S. Representative Edward Markey (D-Mass.), the Climate Change Bill passed the House by a narrow margin in June.  The Senate is expected to resume deliberations on the measure in September.

Jenny Sullivan is a senior editor covering design and planning for BUILDER.