Infrastructure Bill Breakdown for Building Professionals

By Sophia Winston and LeAnne Harvey

Posted March 21, 2022

 

You may know it as the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework (BIF), or simply the Infrastructure Deal. Regardless of what you call it, this historic legislation represents a commitment to improving and sustaining our transportation, energy, water, and broadband systems. The law consists of $1.2 trillion to modernize our electric grid, weatherize our buildings, install EV charging stations, increase our resilience to climate change, and more.

The funding is broken down into three main categories: Transportation; Climate, Energy, & the Environment; and Broadband. Within each category are dedicated funding sources, grants, and programs to address specific challenges. The Infrastructure Law is expansive, and the federal government has created a comprehensive guidebook to help communities better understand these funding opportunities. 

In Philadelphia, buildings account for anywhere between 60-72% of carbon emissions – nationally, the built environment contributes to around 36% of carbon emissions. For this reason, we’re focused on the Clean Energy and Power opportunities within the Infrastructure Law aimed at growing the workforce, delivering clean power, and improving energy efficiency for homes, buildings, and communities. We’ve pulled out some of the opportunities most relevant to the building sector.

 

Commercial Buildings

Nonprofit Energy Efficiency Materials Pilot Program ($50M through 2026)

For: Nonprofits

Administered by the DOE, this competitive grant program will provide non-profits up to $200,000 for energy efficiency upgrades such as lighting, windows, HVAC systems, and more. The program will prioritize applicants based on the energy savings achieved; the cost effectiveness of the use of energy-efficiency materials; an effective plan for evaluation, measurement, and verification of energy savings; and the financial need of the applicant.

Next Steps: Estimated application opening 1st quarter of 2023

 

Grants for Energy Efficiency Improvements and Renewable Energy Improvements At Public School Facilities ($500M through 2026)

For: Public Education Agencies, Schools, Nonprofits, For-profits, Community partners

Administered by the DOE, this competitive grant program will go towards funding energy improvements, or any project that results in: a direct reduction in school energy costs; an improvement in indoor air quality; or the installation of renewable energy technologies or alternative fueled vehicle infrastructure. These projects might include improvements to the envelope, air conditioning systems, ventilation system, heating system, domestic hot water heating system, compressed air system, distribution system, lighting system, power system, and building controls. Priority will be given to an applicant that has renovation, repair, and improvement funding needs; serves a high percentage of students who are eligible for a free or reduced-price lunch; and that leverages private sector investment through energy-related performance contracting.

Next Steps: RFI open until May 18, 2022; Estimatd application opening Fall of 2022

 

Commercial Building Energy Consumption Information Sharing

For: Energy Information Administration (EIA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

While this is not a grant program, it will improve data collection, quality, and methodologies measuring building energy performance. This section will establish an agreement to give the EIA access to building specific data in the EPA Portfolio Manager database and, in return, provide the EPA with data collected in the Commercial Building Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS). The agreement will compare the building data methodologies used by state and local government managers to maximize the quality and integrity of data collected through CBECS and Portfolio Manager. This will improve Philadelphia’s Benchmarking and Building Energy Performance program.

 

 

All Buildings

Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program ($550M until spent)

For: Local Government, Community Organizations, States, U.S. territories, and Indian tribes

The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program (EECBG) was first funded in 2009. This is a formula grant program designed to reduce energy use and carbon emissions, increase cost savings, and create jobs. Funding can be used for: programs designed to finance energy efficiency, renewable energy, zero-emission transportation, and capital investments. These might include loan programs, performance contracting programs, and programs that allow rebates, grants, or other incentives. EECBG grants focus on 6 program areas – Energy Efficiency Retrofits, Financial Incentives, Buildings and Facilities, Lighting, On-site Renewable Technology, and Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy. Between the first grant cycles in 2009-2015, EECBG grants saved 409.27 million BTUs and saved $5.2 million for grantees.

Next Steps: First funding opportunity is expected for release in the Fall of 2022

 

Energy Efficiency Revolving Loan Fund Capitalization Grant Program ($250M until spent)

For: States (To provide loans to Private and Public Entities)

Administered through the State Energy Program, this is a new formula grant program for states to establish new or supplement existing revolving loan fund programs. The revolving loan program will finance residential and commercial building energy audits and the cost of energy efficiency project implementation. A State that receives a capitalization grant under the program may use 25% of the funds to provide grants or technical assistance to businesses that have less than 500 employees or low-income individuals that own a residential building.

Next Steps: TBD

 

Codes Implementation ($225M through 2026)

For: State Gov and partners (Local building code agencies; codes and standards developers; associations of builders and design and construction professionals; local and utility energy efficiency programs; consumer, energy efficiency, and environmental advocates)

Administered by the DOE’s Building Technology office, this competitive grant will be available to states and partner organizations to enable sustained, cost-effective implementation of updated building energy codes that result in increased efficiency compared to the previously adopted building energy code.

 

Weatherization Assistance Program ($3.5B until spent)

For: Weatherization Agencies, Energy Burdened Communities

The Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) is a formula grant program. DOE allocates funding to state governments who then distribute the funding to local governments and weatherization agencies. The funding is for energy efficiency improvements for low-income families. The previous 2020 budget of $310 million covered services to approximately 35,000 homes. The increased budget can serve a wider audience and bring down energy burdens to families that disproportionately feel the weight of inefficient building system. In Philadelphia, families can receive services through the Energy Coordinating Agency and the Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation.

Next Steps: Application deadline July 1, 2022

 

Deployment of Technologies to Enhance Grid Flexibility ($3B through 2026)

For: Utilities, Private Companies, Local Government

Administered through the Smart Grid Investment Grant Program, this is a competitive grant program designed to improve grid flexibility to improve demand response and help accommodate the integration of distributed energy resources (DERs). Projects might include building data technologies, smart appliances, and advanced transmission technologies.

Next Steps: Applications for the Smart Grid program are expected to open by the end of 2022

 

Improving Grid Resilience & Reliability ($5B through 2026) 

For: Electric Grid Operators/Distributors/Generators, Small Scale Utilities, States, & Indian Tribes 

This formula grant program from DOE will support resilience efforts for the electric grid by providing financial support for projects related to weatherization technologies and equipment, technologies that improve fire resiliency, relocation or burying of lines and equipment, microgrids and battery-storage components, and other grid weatherization measures. States or Indian Tribes will be required to submit grant proposals for utility providers with special attention geared towards small scale utilities that generate less than 4,000,000 megawatt hours of electricity per year to target communities that may have vulnerable or outdated electric infrastructure. This program will also provide grantees with technical assistance support to ensure that weatherization measures are implemented and monitored correctly. 

Next Steps: Estimated application opening fourth quarter of 2022

 

Workforce Development

Building, Training, and Assessment Centers ($10M until spent)

For: Higher Education Institutions, Tribal Colleges and Universities

Administered by DOE, grants will be made applicable for higher education institutions, in coordination with industrial research and assessment centers, to establish building training and assessment centers. The training centers will train engineers, architects, building scientists, building energy permitting and enforcement officials, and building technicians in energy-efficient design and operation; promote emerging concepts and technologies in commercial and institutional buildings; promote research and development for the use of alternative energy sources and distributed generation to supply heat and power for buildings; and more.

Next Steps: Estimated application opening second quarter  of 2022

 

Career Skills Training ($10M until spent)

For: Partnership of nonprofits with public or private employees (Workforce investment boards, community-based organizations, small businesses, educational institutions, veterans agencies)

Administered by DOE, a federal cost-share grant program for an established partnership to provide worker skills training and education programs. The grant will prioritize partners with training experience, the ability to involve target populations who would benefit from training and be actively involved in activities relating to energy efficiency and renewable energy industries, and the ability to help individuals achieve economic self-sufficiency. The grant will cover the associated career skills training programs while the partnership provides on-the-job training for the purpose of obtaining an industry-related certification to install energy efficient buildings technologies.

Next Steps: Estimated application opening first quarter of 2023

 

Energy Auditor Training Grant Program ($40M through 2026)

For: States, Nonprofit or for-profit training organizations, Individuals receiving training

Administered under the State Energy Program, this is a competitive/formula grant program for eligible states to train individuals to conduct energy audits or surveys of commercial and residential buildings. The funding will not exceed $2M for any eligible state.  The state will provide a proposed training curriculum that will result in certification through either: the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers Building Energy Assessment Professional certification; the Association of Energy Engineers Certified Energy Auditor certification; the Building Performance Institute Home Energy Professional Energy Auditor certification; the Residential Energy Services Network Home Energy Rater certification; or any other third-party certification recognized by DOE. 

Next Steps: Estimated application opening in second quarter of 2022

 

 

How Green Building United will advocate for infrastructure dollars in our region

Creating opportunities and securing funding for greener, healthier, and safer buildings is how we can take climate action in our region. Here’s how we plan to advocate for infrastructure dollars in Philadelphia, Delaware, and the Lehigh Valley.

  • Engage in opportunities to support and provide feedback to state departments seeking formula and competetive funding through the Infrastructure Law.

  • Ensure that funding is prioritized for communities in need in Philadelphia. The HERE4CJ (Housing Equity Repairs and Electrification for Climate Justice) coalition is led by front-line community organizations ensuring that basic needs are being met for Philadelphia residents.

  • Continue to steward building performance programs that create accountability for local and global climate goals. Local initiatives and policies, such as Building Benchmarking, the Building Energy Performance Program, and the 2030 District, work directly with property managers to reduce energy and water use and improve efficiency.

  • Continue to provide ongoing education and training opportunities. We hope to continue to grow and serve our members by providing relevant trainings for individuals to engage in the green building and clean energy workforce.

  • Engage in local and state elections to ensure that our regional leaders are prioritizing building energy performance and climate action.

 

 

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