GSA Set to Spend
The General Services Administration (GSA) announced last week that Washington, D.C., will get more than $1.2 billion of the $5.5 billion that the agency received under the Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to pay for construction projects. In a March 31 statement announcing the stimulus money distribution, the GSA said that $4.5 billion will go toward renovating older federal buildings to be more high performance and green. The agency has also released a full list, by location, of projects it intends to use the stimulus money for. All projects will be overseen by Bill Guerin, who was recently tapped to head the Recovery Act Program Management Office.
The AIA has been tracking the agency's stimulus funds and how they will be spent. "We've heard that although a good chunk of the work will go to firms with existing contracts, there will also be opportunities for new firms to enter the market," said Andrew Goldberg, AIA senior director of federal relations, in an e-mail to ARCHITECT. "GSA has also told us that their small-business programs and set-asides are unchanged for stimulus, so there will be opportunities for smaller firms as well." Goldberg said that all design work for the projects will be done by nongovernment architects, though he acknowledged that some projects may have already passed through the design phase.
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Among Barack Obama's chief campaign promises was the restoration of credibility and power back to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). And in his first months in office, the president has already made his mark, undoing many Bush policies and setting a new tone for how America will treat the environment and how environmental issues will be weighed against business interests. For architects, this could mean many opportunities for work. "It appears that the EPA under Obama will take a more aggressive stance towards greenhouse gases and brownfield remediation, which could provide opportunities for architects to help design more energy efficient buildings and help revitalize brownfield sites," said the AIA's Goldberg in an e-mail. "EPA also has a smart growth program, and with the efforts by HUD and DOT to coordinate transportation and housing planning and policy, there could be a more prominent role for EPA in that as well." For more on President Obama and the EPA, read this U.S. News blog post and this Washington Post article.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has brand-new headquarters in Northeast D.C., but the building may be making workers ill. Employees at the facility have complained about health problems since moving in last November. Officials blame the off-gassing of formaldehyde from new-construction materials.