Sustainable Infrastructure Wins! Now What?

Blog
Green Building

Countless capital improvement projects in communities nationwide have been backlogged for decades, but for many, that’s about to change. New funding in the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (“Infrastructure Bill”) will go toward a wide range of projects, including road repairs, energy improvements in low-income housing, replacements for old and dirty lead pipes, electric vehicle chargers, and electric buses.

On November 15, 2021, President Biden signed the Infrastructure Bill, approving unprecedented levels of funding for investments in transportation, water, and power infrastructure to improve living and working conditions, increase environmental equity and resilience, strengthen our nation’s workforce, and decrease the negative impacts of development on our planet. While this bipartisan legislation is not a climate bill, it also includes important investments that will help mitigate the climate crisis and is an encouraging sign as Congress considers additional investments to address climate and social issues under the Build Back Better Act.

Passing the Infrastructure Bill is certainly cause for celebration, but what happens next? At Southface Institute, we’re rolling up our sleeves to turn federal funding into active state and local projects and working to ensure that the communities most impacted by environmental threats because of discrimination and disinvestment are prioritized throughout the process. Several major investments outlined in the Infrastructure Bill will expand and accelerate Southface’s impact in Georgia, Florida, and throughout the country:

    •  Funding to address energy burden in low- and moderate-income households: $3.5 billion will go toward the Weatherization Assistance Program and $500 million to the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.
    • Energy conservation grants to communities: $550 million for the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program (EECBG) will be used to develop, promote, implement, and manage energy efficiency and conservation projects and create jobs.
    • Funding to state energy offices: $500 million is allocated to the US Department of Energy (DOE) State Energy Program and $250 million will help states establish an Efficiency Revolving Loan Fund Capitalization Grant Program for commercial and residential energy efficiency loans and audits.
    • Cost-effective code implementation for efficiency and resilience: The bill establishes a competitive grant program in the DOE’s Building Technologies Office (BTO) “to enable sustained cost-effective implementation of updated building energy codes.”
    • Workforce development: The Energy Auditor Training Grant Program will train individuals to conduct energy audits or surveys of commercial and residential buildings.
    • Grid integration: An investment in grid flexibility will be possible with the authorization of the Smart Grid Investment Matching Program at $3 billion for fiscal year 2022. This grant program would have multiple allowable uses, specifically “in the case of buildings, the documented expenses for devices and software, including for installation, that allow buildings to engage in demand flexibility or Smart Grid functions.”
    • Resilience: $1 billion will support FEMA’s Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) Program.
    • Walkable communities and transit-oriented development: Public transportation investments are designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide funding to state and metropolitan planning organizations in State Planning and Research grants directed toward “promoting safe and accessible transportation options.”
    • Electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure: $7.5 billion will help build out a national network of EV chargers.
    • Clean energy improvements at public school facilities: $500 million will benefit public schools in fiscal years 2022-2026.
    • Energy efficiency materials pilot program: $50 million in fiscal years 2022-2026 will establish a pilot grant-making program to provide nonprofit buildings with energy efficient materials.

Southface is ready and able to work with federal agencies, state energy offices, local governments, and state and local advocates to operationalize these new funding opportunities and policies with equity at the center. Join us and help create a healthy built environment for all.

Subscribe to our newsletter to stay informed — and donate to our mission to make more happy places a reality today. If you are interested in partnering with Southface on upcoming federal funding opportunities, please email advocacy@southface.org.

Related Content

Southface’s upcoming leadership transition

Dear Southface community, Like 2020, 2021 has been a year of great change, fundamentally redefining where...

You Are Here: Navigating the Latest Science on Climate Change

Taking a Sobering Look Around  It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere,...