The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act signed into law on Nov. 15, 2021, by President Joe Biden, includes an appropriation of $550 million in Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant funding and $500 million in State Energy Program funding for state and local governments to adopt and implement building energy codes. This could bring more opportunities for the increasing use of high-performance glass and window products.

According to the legislation, $225 million will be allocated for competitive grants available through the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to implement building codes. This was good news for the International Code Council’s (ICC) “Code on a Mission” program, which intends for more than one-third of the U.S. population to be covered by the 2021 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) by the end of 2023. According to the ICC, the DOE estimates annual energy costs with code compliance can be reduced by an average of 45%.

In addition, for fiscal years 2022 through 2026, $50 million is allocated, the bill states, for financial assistance to states for programs to serve as models for supporting the implementation of smart manufacturing technologies. Each state granted an award must match the funding equal to or less than 30% of the awarded funds. Eligible states will submit applications, which will be evaluated based on merit, including technical merit, innovation, and impact; research approach, work plan, and deliverables; academic and private sector partners; and alternate funding sources. Assistance will not be awarded beyond three years or for more than $2 million per award.

Funding will allow training for engineers, architects, building scientists, building energy permitting and enforcement officials, and building technicians about energy-efficient design and operation. Opportunities will be identified for optimizing energy efficiency and environmental performance in buildings and promoting the application of emerging concepts and technologies in commercial and institutional buildings. Training for building technicians in higher education institutions will also be available, and research and development will be encouraged to use alternative energy sources and distribution generation to supply heat and power for buildings.

Career skills training will also be available for public and private employers in the industry, labor organizations and joint labor-management training programs. Training may include workforce investment boards, community-based organizations, qualified service and conservation corps, educational institutions, small businesses, cooperatives, state and local veterans agencies and veterans service organizations, as well as other “populations of individuals who would benefit from training and be actively involved in activities relating to energy efficiency and renewable energy industries,” the bill states.

A number of construction industry groups have spoken out in support of the new legislation.

“This Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is a significant investment in the safety and resiliency of the built environment,” said Dominic Sims, the ICC’s chief executive officer. “Its commitment to the effective implementation of building energy codes is unprecedented and reflects years of work by the Code Council and other stakeholders.”

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) also applauded the act.

“This bipartisan legislation affirms AIA’s long-held contention that buildings are infrastructure,” said Peter Exley, AIA 2021 president. “It is encouraging to see Congress make meaningful investment in building sector energy efficiency and resilience. While the infrastructure deal is an important step forward for our nation, more needs to be done if we are going to win in this race against time for our planet. We continue to urge Congress to support the significant climate investments contained in the Build Back Better bill, as well as aggressive emissions reduction commitments at COP26 that will combat climate change.”

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