As the day of virtual roofing in DC 2021 on March 23 and 34 approaches, Justin Koscher, President of the Association of Manufacturers of Polyisocyanurate Insulation Materials, issued the following message for roofers:
As the country continues to move cautiously towards a familiar sense of normalcy, we individually and collectively seek to rebuild for a better and more prosperous future after a year of loss. This March brings a sense of normalcy to the roofing industry as we gather again as a collective of contractors, manufacturers, design professionals and associations to come together on Capitol Hill for DC 2021’s annual Roofing Day. During this year’s Be Virtual event, the collaborative spirit to unite to talk about our role in rebuilding American prosperity is high.
The roofing industry is uniquely capable of making vital contributions to some of the most pressing political goals of our time, including creating reliable employment opportunities, helping modernize critical infrastructure and promoting energy efficient and resilient buildings. These initiatives are largely supported by both the legislature and the executive branch of the federal government. There is a shared vision that the daunting challenge of rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure and making our built environment more resilient to adverse climatic impacts is an opportunity to provide training and meaningful employment to many workers affected by recent job losses to offer.
High quality roofing work
Even before the pandemic, labor shortages were high on the list of growth restraints for roofers and construction companies. Today, many Americans have been evicted from the workforce because of the pandemic and the profound changes in our economy. Many workers in need of work have a skills gap to make a career in new industries. Increased investment in vocational and technical training can open up opportunities for displaced people in the roofing and other construction industries.
Professional careers in roofing, construction, or manufacturing offer an attractive option for unemployed Americans and younger generations just entering the world of work. For many years, our national education policy has focused on sending people to college as the primary route to job success. This unified approach to post-secondary education overlooks the value of investing in vocational training and careers in the craft sector. Increased federal investment in vocational and technical training will train the workforce needed to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow and provide critical support to the many small construction and manufacturing companies that are the driving force behind the US economy.
This infusion of workers into jobs like roofers is especially important at a time when critical upgrades to our national infrastructure are urgently needed. Children in many parts of the country are finally returning to school, but part of what has delayed their return is poor ventilation in their school buildings. The average public school building in the US is more than 40 years old and the current backlog of maintenance and capital projects represents a funding gap of $ 380 billion.
Schools are only a small part of the country’s infrastructure needs. The American Society of Civil Engineers released a report this month that estimates the country is facing a spending deficit of $ 2.59 trillion and rates the current state of our infrastructure as “mediocre”. The Biden administration has expressed an interest in ambitious plans to address these shortcomings and the success of those plans will depend on the strength of the construction industry that is called upon to complete these projects.
Linked to the infrastructure investment plans, there is an urgent need to consider how projects will be structured to meet the energy efficiency and resilience requirements demanded by our changing climate. As the recent Texas ice storms painfully demonstrated, losses in energy efficiency and resilience can have costly effects that outweigh the short-term savings of building to lower standards. The same lessons apply to other projects.
Because the majority of our lives take place in and around the built environment, raising standards for new residential, commercial and industrial buildings, as well as retrofitting older buildings, can result in significant long-term savings through improved building performance. By increasing energy efficiency alone, 40 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions that are required to achieve the global goals can be reduced. The work to implement these standards will create jobs in manufacturing, sales and construction. Energy improvements save consumers billions of dollars in utility bills annually – money that can be invested back in the US economy.
However, this policy would save more than just energy. They would also provide additional protection from severe weather events to buildings and the people who use them. In 2019 alone, there were $ 232 billion in losses from natural disasters in the United States. For example, optimizing the building envelope or envelope to meet today’s insulation requirements can improve performance after a disaster or during prolonged events such as heat waves or extreme cold. And the investment is paying off – it is estimated that building and renovating buildings under the 2018 Modeling Regulations would bring a national benefit of $ 11 for every $ 1 invested.
As a country, we find ourselves in a time of unprecedented stress as we recover from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Important discussions are being held to see how we are tackling the challenges of getting Americans back to work and rebuilding our national prosperity. There is widespread public support for infrastructure investment and significant opportunities for a non-partisan deal. The umbrella industry stands ready to use our strengths to support these national efforts to create jobs, improve our infrastructure and build a more resilient and energy efficient future.
About the author: Justin Koscher is President of the Association of Manufacturers of Polyisocyanurate Insulation.