Green Business Bureau Blog
PART 1: How to Use Recovery Funds for Green Building
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 is an economic stimulus package enacted into a law by President Barack Obama on February 17, 2009. The law provides billions of funds for states and localities to augment funding in response to the effects of the US economic recession. The stimulus package was approved with $787 billion funding. Recovery.gov reports that for the FY 2009, 90% of the $45 billion funds under Recovery Act were distributed among states and localities. The fund will cover three major categories namely health, transportation and education programs. Within these programs, the law includes social welfare provisions, energy sector, infrastructure, unemployment benefits among others.
The economic stimulus package involves billions of people’s hard earned dollars. With the passage of the law comes immediate fund distribution and implementation. The law seems to be a perfect plan to improve the lives of its people despite great economic difficulties. But the plan can only be realized through coordinated efforts among stakeholders; government, businesses, not for profit organizations, community and individuals.
The Green Business Bureau is composed of ordinary citizens like you. GBB consists of individuals geared towards one vision – a green and safe place for each individual today and more importantly, for the next generation.
Here are GBB’s recommended strategies for the usage of Recovery Act funds.
1. Green School, Green Education
The children of today are the future of tomorrow. It is a cliché, yes. But it is true and most often neglected. Teachers receive the biggest impact when schools live through budget cuts. Salary is considered a huge expense. With the Recovery Act funds, the government needs to transform schools into green certified institutions. The economic stimulus package aims to produce long term effects and ensure sustainability of efforts. And what better way to do that than investing in green schools. By instituting green practices at school, teachers and students alike are able to teach and study under a healthy, safe and productive learning environment. Green schools operate under significant reduced costs. Financial savings can be utilized in more important expenses such as hiring more teachers. It can also be used in providing updated trainings for teachers to ensure the quality of education that children receive from school.
2. Energy Efficiency and Energy Conservation
States and localities need to focus and invest on renewable energy projects. Overall dependence on foreign oil, gas and fuel need to gradually stop. Instead, it should be replaces with independence on alternative energy sources to conserve energy, reduce air pollution and eliminate greenhouse gas emissions. The Recovery Act fund should be able to establish these projects and implement them with sustainability in mind. The renewable energy project should be able to stand on its own even after the economic stimulus package. Renewable energy comes in the forms of solar energy, hydropower, biofuels, geothermal energy and wind power.
3. Green Affordable Housing
The Low Income House Taxing Credit under the US Department of Housing and Development provides funds for low income housing development. With the Recovery Act fund, eligible states and localities can augment funds gap to undertake low income housing projects and avail of this program. As the low income housing is intended for low earners, green housing plan should be incorporated in the project. This will ensure capability and sustainability of the project initiatives.
4. Green Government Buildings
Local government should invest in greening their own buildings. As the old saying goes, “Walk the talk.” This way, states and localities not only lead their constituents by example but also save resources on the process. Green is always equivalent to savings. Thus, operating costs will be reduced and spent on more worthwhile activities.
5. Green Businesses Involvement
Businesses will have to tackle revenue losses at the height of economic downturn. They also need to face tighter competition with the emerging green business trends. The Recovery Act should enable states and localities to offer tax rebates, credits and incentives to green businesses. The local government should also be able to monitor regulations on greenhouse gas emission among others. In order for businesses to survive in today’s environment, more and more business owners are beginning to realize the benefits of becoming a green business. The states and localities should be able to boost green businesses’ efforts and encourage others to do the same. The businesses save a lot on operating costs and other expenses and at the same time increase sales through effective green marketing strategies. The state benefits from fewer wastes and overall proactive environment protection.