Seeking to reduce severe unemployment in the construction industry, the American Architectural Manufacturers Association recently sent a letter to Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) and members of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Ways and Means asking for effective tax incentives relating to energy-efficient fenestration products for homeowners.
“AAMA members represent 143,000 employees whose jobs are based solely on the strength of the home construction and renovation industries,” says Rich Walker, AAMA president and CEO. “The sharp decline and resulting layoffs in home construction brought about by the collapse of the housing market and subsequent economic recession continue to plague the construction industry at every level.”
The 2009-2010 Nonbusiness Energy Property 25(c) tax credit, which offered homeowners a 30 percent tax credit-up to $1,500-provided a boost in the sales of energy-efficient windows and doors, Walker explains. It helped to sustain jobs in production facilities and residential construction. The current legislation, however, has reduced the lifetime tax credit to 10 percent-up to a maximum of $500-for energy-efficient residential products, purchased and placed in service during 2011. “This severe reduction has led to a debilitating decrease in demand and has decimated the construction industry from production facilities to retailers to product installers,” he continues.
“Even in a severely-recessed economy, homeowners will purchase products to reduce their energy bills given the proper incentive,” Walker adds. According to 2009 data from the Internal Revenue Service, 2.3 million homeowners seized the tax credit opportunity to purchase and install energy-efficient windows and skylights throughout 2009. Additionally, 1.8 million homeowners made purchases of energy-saving exterior doors, he notes.
Based on Energy Star program estimates, the investments made by homeowners to purchase and install efficient fenestration products in 2009 will reduce energy costs by an average of $295 annually per household, resulting in a collective savings exceeding $678 million per year for U.S. homeowners who participated in the program, AAMA officials note.
“Congress continues to provide billions of dollars in funding incentives to support alternative energy-generating projects through the DOE’s Loan Program Office,” Walker states. “While this endeavor may prove to be a valuable investment in the future, it should be clear that conserving energy-whether generated by gas, electricity, solar or wind power-is the highest imperative. Delivering energy to a home that is not properly insulated or has inefficient window and door products is a preventable waste of resources that can be remedied with American-made products already on the market.” A vast array of high-performance residential windows, doors and skylights are available to increase the energy efficiency of the U.S. housing stock.
Walker predicts that, if reinstated, the 30 percent/$1,500 energy effiicency tax credit would spur an immediate increase in employment throughout the construction industry supply and installation chain. “Our reliance on foreign oil will abate as highly-efficient windows and doors go to work conserving energy,” he says. “These efforts not only help to conserve national and global resources, they help spark our domestic manufacturing and fiscal health; enhance home values and provide homeowners and their families with more comfortable, better-performing residences.”