In Focus

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Election 2022:

Where Candidates for Congress Stand

New York

20TH DISTRICT

Paul D. Tonko (Incumbent)

Democratic

U.S. House, New York 20

 

1.         WHAT ARE THE BEST WAYS THAT CONGRESS CAN HELP TO REDUCE THE ENERGY AND WATER CONSUMPTION OF BUILDINGS TO HELP MAKE THEM MORE SUSTAINABLE?

 

Our roads and bridges aren’t the only parts of our national infrastructure that are in immediate need of repair and replacement. Our buildings, both public and private, also are long overdue for retrofitting and other energy efficiency installations. Congress should continue to increase standards of energy and water consumption, but cannot hamstring owners or local governments while doing so. Robust resources must be made available to incentivize owners to bring their properties into the 21st century, and the nation must commit to serious and sustained research and development that makes these improvements more affordable for years to come.

 

 

2. WHICH SUSTAINABLE BUILDING POLICIES DO YOU SUPPORT AND WOULD WORK TO ENACT IF ELECTED?

 

a. Set benchmarking requirements for commercial buildings and encourage cities and states to adopt performance-based standards for buildings

b. Provide rebates to homeowners who invest in energy efficiency improvements

c. Provide incentives to states and localities to adopt the most up-to-date energy building codes

d. Renew and expand tax incentives for energy efficient buildings

e. Require federal buildings to meet aggressive energy efficiency and carbon reduction targets

f. Provide support to states and localities to make buildings more resilient from natural hazards and disasters

g. Invest in the retrofitting of schools, community centers, libraries and other civic buildings to improve occupant safety and reduce energy consumption, especially in underserved communities

h. Conduct research into the most promising technologies, products and materials that improve occupant health and reduce transmission of contagious disease while saving energy

i. Support programs or incentives to accelerate the electrification of buildings.

 

3.         IF ELECTED, WHAT STEPS WILL YOU TAKE TO ENSURE THAT ALL AMERICANS, REGARDLESS OF SOCIOECONOMIC STATUS, ARE ABLE TO BENEFIT FROM HEALTHY AND SUSTAINABLE BUILDINGS?

 

I ran for Congress because our nation had no clear energy policy. That lack of an effort to move away from fossil fuels and improve the quality of our environment disproportionately affects vulnerable communities of color and lower socioeconomic status. Any solutions outlined in the questions above must be applied with a priority placed on communities with the most need.

 

4.         IF ELECTED, WHAT STEPS WILL YOU TAKE TO TRAIN AND PREPARE PEOPLE FOR CLEAN ENERGY JOBS THAT ADVANCE SUSTAINABLE BUILDINGS AND BUILDING COMPONENTS?

 

As a nation, we must get out of the mindset that we have to choose between a prosperous economy and a thriving environment. The two can go hand in hand by instituting national training programs that retrain people from lagging industries with new skills that can place them in quality “green-collar” jobs.

 

5.         ARE YOU WILLING TO WORK WITH THE BUILDING SECTOR TO MAKE SURE THAT TRANSFORMING BUILDINGS IS PART OF THE POLICY DEBATE IN CONGRESS, INCLUDING JOINING CAUCUSES THAT ADVOCATE FOR SUSTAINABLE BUILDING POLICIES? IF YES, HOW WILL YOU DO THAT?

 

Yes, my service on several caucuses and committees uniquely position my office and me to continue to advocate for sustainable building policies. I serve as the Chairman of the Environment & Climate Change Subcommittee (Energy & Commerce), the co-chair of the Sustainable Energy & Environment Coalition (SEEC), and a member of the House Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Caucus, the Congressional Safe Climate Caucus, among other related groups. We view the built environment as one of the most important sectors to achieving 100% clean energy no later than 2050. 

 

6.         DO YOU HAVE ANY PREVIOUS EXPERIENCES RELATED TO SUSTAINABLE BUILDINGS (E.G., SUPPORTING LEGISLATION IN ELECTED OFFICE, MADE ENERGY EFFICIENCY IMPROVEMENTS TO A HOME, OFFICE, COMMUNITY-WIDE, ETC.)?

 

I supported the Inflation Reduction Act, which was a big victory for green buildings: https://www.usgbc.org/resources/inflation-reduction-act-buildings-provisions. 

I have previously fought for $27 billion in the House-passed infrastructure package to improve the energy efficiency, health and resilience of buildings. This funding focused on homes, schools and other public buildings. The package also reauthorized DOE’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program to support local governments’ clean energy priorities. This is just one of countless pieces of legislation I have and will continue to fight for.

26TH DISTRICT

Brian Higgins (Incumbent)

Democratic

U.S. House, New York 26

 

1.         WHAT ARE THE BEST WAYS THAT CONGRESS CAN HELP TO REDUCE THE ENERGY AND WATER CONSUMPTION OF BUILDINGS TO HELP MAKE THEM MORE SUSTAINABLE?

 

There are many tools that Congress can promote to improve the energy and resource efficiency of our nation's built infrastructure. Those tools include tax credits that promote sustainable retrofitting, grants that target sectors unable to access capital, best practices to encourage the adoption of energy efficiency, These strategies are particularly important for a community like Buffalo, Niagara Falls, and Western New York, which has a significant stock of older homes and buildings. Many of these concepts were incorporated into legislation I was proud to support this Congress - like the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the Inflation Reduction Act - which establish meaningful downpayments toward improving the efficiency of our infrastructure to confront the challenges of our future.

 

2. WHICH SUSTAINABLE BUILDING POLICIES DO YOU SUPPORT AND WOULD WORK TO ENACT IF ELECTED?

 

a. Set benchmarking requirements for commercial buildings and encourage cities and states to adopt performance-based standards for buildings

b. Provide rebates to homeowners who invest in energy efficiency improvements

c. Provide incentives to states and localities to adopt the most up-to-date energy building codes

d. Renew and expand tax incentives for energy efficient buildings

e. Require federal buildings to meet aggressive energy efficiency and carbon reduction targets

f. Provide support to states and localities to make buildings more resilient from natural hazards and disasters

g. Invest in the retrofitting of schools, community centers, libraries and other civic buildings to improve occupant safety and reduce energy consumption, especially in underserved communities

h. Conduct research into the most promising technologies, products and materials that improve occupant health and reduce transmission of contagious disease while saving energy

i. Support programs or incentives to accelerate the electrification of buildings.

 

3.         IF ELECTED, WHAT STEPS WILL YOU TAKE TO ENSURE THAT ALL AMERICANS, REGARDLESS OF SOCIOECONOMIC STATUS, ARE ABLE TO BENEFIT FROM HEALTHY AND SUSTAINABLE BUILDINGS?

 

The impact of efforts to confront climate change and decrease carbon emissions will be lasting if it reaches everyone. I support environmental justice efforts in my community and I understand that efforts to promote energy efficiency and sustainability should prioritize folks who have been left behind in the past. This is particularly important to neighborhoods in the City of Buffalo, still reeling from the effects of the racist mass shooting at a supermarket early this year. Sustainable buildings in these neighborhoods should not only be energy efficient, but should build on efforts to fight food insecurity, promote public safety, easy access to public transit, and generally provide opportunity.

 

4.         IF ELECTED, WHAT STEPS WILL YOU TAKE TO TRAIN AND PREPARE PEOPLE FOR CLEAN ENERGY JOBS THAT ADVANCE SUSTAINABLE BUILDINGS AND BUILDING COMPONENTS?

 

I strongly support efforts in my community to promote workforce development and job creation in the building and manufacturing sectors to foster the next generation industries in my community. I was a strong supporter of economic development programs in the American Rescue Plan to promote green manufacturing jobs on the East Side of Buffalo, a project which was recently awarded a $25 million grant from the Economic Development Administration. I am working with industrial unions and building trades to ensure that we are prepared for economic opportunities that are being created because of investments made through the CHIPS and Science Act and the Inflation Reduction Act. In order to provide economic opportunity for all, I also believe it is important to work with community-based organizations with deep grassroots reach so that as many as possible are looped into this potential.

 

5.         ARE YOU WILLING TO WORK WITH THE BUILDING SECTOR TO MAKE SURE THAT TRANSFORMING BUILDINGS IS PART OF THE POLICY DEBATE IN CONGRESS, INCLUDING JOINING CAUCUSES THAT ADVOCATE FOR SUSTAINABLE BUILDING POLICIES? IF YES, HOW WILL YOU DO THAT?

 

Yes. I believe this is an important policy area and welcome the promotion of legislation and caucuses on this subject. 

 

6.         DO YOU HAVE ANY PREVIOUS EXPERIENCES RELATED TO SUSTAINABLE BUILDINGS (E.G., SUPPORTING LEGISLATION IN ELECTED OFFICE, MADE ENERGY EFFICIENCY IMPROVEMENTS TO A HOME, OFFICE, COMMUNITY-WIDE, ETC.)?

 

I have long supported efforts in my community to promote sustainable buildings. For example, I supported a geothermal energy project at the Niagara Aquarium in legislation that passed the House this year. I also routinely work with the local renewable energy community to increase the use of these technologies in commercial, industrial, and residential settings in my community.

BuildingAction does not endorse candidates in primary or general elections. Nothing in this report should be construed as support or opposition to any candidate. Candidates and parties are listed alphabetically. BuildingAction made every effort to report on candidates’ positions accurately; any mistakes or omissions were inadvertent. Please email info@agoragov.com with any suggested corrections.)