Environmental Protection

Biden Releases Green Jobs Report

In a move that might boost the U.S. construction industry, the White House unveiled "Recovery Through Retrofit,"  a report that outlines ways to expand "green jobs" nationwide.

Based on energy efficiency retrofits of the nation's 130 million existing homes, the plan calls for a standardized home energy performance measure and an energy performance label for existing homes that would resemble the Energy Star program for appliances.

The cost of the retrofits would be added to a homeowner's property tax bill, which "attaches the costs of the energy retrofit to the property, not the individual, eliminating uncertainty about recovering the cost of the improvements if the property is sold," the report states.

The U.S. Department of Labor is among 17 federal agencies and offices that contributed to the report and participated in drafting its recommendations. DOL's role would be working with EPA, HUD, and the Department of Energy to assess current training programs that train workers for green jobs and to develop consistent models, guides, and best practices for training and certification.

On Oct. 2, the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) said unemployment in the U.S. construction sector had climbed to 17.1 percent in August 2009, with 80 percent of the jobs lost that month coming from non-residential construction. On Sept. 30, AGC's Chief Executive Officer Stephen Sandherr released a new recovery plan in Reno, Nev., and said that area has been hit hardest by construction job losses. The AGC plan, "Build Now for the Future: A Blueprint for Economic Growth," calls for incentives and tax cuts to stimulate the industry. "The problems facing the construction industry aren't just devastating construction workers, they are crippling our broader economy," he said. "Simply put, you can't fix our economy until you fix the construction industry."

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