SMACNA expressed enthusiastic support for S. 4060, "The Open Back Better Act of 2020", sponsored by Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) which would spur more than $100 billion in critical public building retrofits through public private partnerships, in part by using savings from energy efficiency improvements to cover costs. An identical bill, H.R. 7303, sponsored by Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), was added to the House-passed infrastructure bill, H.R. 2, The Moving Forward Act on July 1st by a 234-178 bipartisan vote.
S. 4060 would authorize $20 billion over 5 years, and $84 million per year over 10 years. Funding would be delivered through three existing Department of Energy programs. Eligible facilities include federal, state, and local buildings such as schools, medical facilities, government buildings, education institutions, libraries, and any additional facilities approved by the Secretary of Energy. The Open Back Better Act would expand energy efficiency, environmental quality and jobs during the current economic recession.
The Open Back Better Act of 2020 would provide stimulus funding to states, federal agencies, and tribes to upgrade public building infrastructure while:
- Creating good jobs doing critical, long neglected upgrades in our schools, hospitals, federal buildings, and other public facilities.
- Making these facilities safe to re-open via improvements to reduce threats from COVID 19 and improve indoor air quality.
- Prioritizing environmental justice through projects targeted at low-income, COVID impacted communities.
- Reducing emissions and lowering operating costs by improving building energy efficiency