Johnson Announces Sweeping Solar Summer Energy Agenda and Hails Recovery Act job growth

As prepared for delivery

Remarks by
Martha N. Johnson
U.S. General Services Administration
Veterans Affairs Regional Office and Insurance Center Recovery Act Event
Philadelphia, PA
June 17, 2010

Good morning, and thank you, Rob, for that kind introduction.

I am delighted to be here on behalf of the Obama administration with so many hard-working Philadelphians. As always, Philadelphia’s workers continue to play a pivotal role in powering our nation’s economy and getting our country moving again. 

Last year, President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act – an unprecedented effort to cushion the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression. 

The mission of this landmark legislation was bold, and its purpose was clear: to mitigate the economic impact of the crisis and lay a new foundation for our future prosperity. 

Through a wide range of initiatives, including large tax breaks for millions of working families, the Recovery Act has helped to reinvigorate America’s private sector and propel our economy forward. 

As part of this federal effort, GSA has committed its funds to create a more sustainable and better-performing federal building portfolio. This includes what we’re calling GSA’s Solar Summer: a swift and aggressive push to get Americans back to work in long-lasting, green-collar sectors like solar energy by significantly ramping up our solar installation projects countrywide. By Labor Day, GSA will put people to work building 31 solar energy projects that will generate a total of 12 megawatts of renewable solar power capacity – enough to power 1,600 homes, and equivalent to removing 2,500 cars from the road.

Since last summer, GSA has quadrupled our number of active Recovery Act construction projects, which has meant more jobs nationwide – jobs that are recovering from our past and reinvesting in our collective future by building the vital infrastructure of our nation. 

Thanks to the broad and coordinated federal efforts of the Recovery Act, our economy is roaring back to life, and as you can see from the impressive display of solar panels behind me, the Recovery Act is generating new, long-term, green jobs. 

Here in Pennsylvania, the state has been awarded more than $7.2 billion in total Recovery Act funding, and to date, that money has helped save or create more than 20,500 jobs.

With projects like this one at the Veterans Affairs Center of Philadelphia, GSA is taking innovative steps to implement the latest in energy-efficient solar technology and create the energy solutions of tomorrow. Here, thanks to an investment of more than $6 million in Recovery Act money, nearly 2,000 solar panels will produce more than half a million kilowatt-hours of renewable energy per year, reducing this building’s annual carbon footprint by nearly 400 metric tons.

Just across town, more Recovery Act-funded building projects are under way. At Philadelphia’s U.S. Custom House, $29.9 million has been allocated for restoration, implementation of energy-efficient fixtures and roof modernization. The William J. Green Jr. Federal Building and the James A. Byrne U.S. Courthouse are also undergoing significant modernization and renovations, and are on track to receive more than $16 million in energy-efficient infrastructure investment.      

This is the smart thing to do for the environment, for the economy, and for the taxpayer. By reducing the buildings’ energy costs, we save taxpayer dollars in building operations and utility costs. 

Green jobs and green growth will be pillars of our future economic success. We are wasting no time in moving aggressively forward on the green and environmental front: To date, GSA has invested $4.1 billion in building modernization and construction projects, and by July, GSA will have put 545 companies to work on green building projects, more than double the number of a year ago. 

These jobs represent the kind of smart investments that will launch our country into the next decade and beyond.

Thanks to the Recovery Act, GSA is driving the construction, transportation, energy, and automotive industries toward green projects and technologies that invest in the jobs and economy of the future.

I’m delighted to share the stage today with Elaine Prince, the president of Manna Supply company, based just outside of Philadelphia. Her business acts as a supplier of construction products, and like so many small businesses, the additional funding from the Recovery Act has gone toward building the business. Manna Supply is in the process of acquiring LEED [Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design] certification and plans to leverage itself into a new and competitive market position.

While the national economic outlook is improving, there is still a long way to go before our economy is back on its feet again, and although the numbers tell one story, there are still too many Americans who are feeling the terrible anxiety of unemployment. But there are signs of hope. 

Thanks to the Recovery Act, workers like Lane Lundberg, who you will hear from shortly, are back on the job. Lane is a construction worker who was unemployed for five months and fought hard to make ends meet. Lane had no experience with solar installation, but he was a quick learner, and he received on-the-job training. Now, Lane is not only employed, but he has gained a valuable new skill set that has positioned him for future green construction projects.

These Americans are working today because of the Recovery Act. Stories like theirs show the broad effect that the Recovery Act has had throughout the economy as new funding spurs job creation and promotes the growth of long-lasting and sustainable green-collar jobs. 

And we’re not done. Not nearly. This summer will be the most active Recovery Act season yet, and we will see a significant spike in the rolling out of transportation, housing, and energy projects nationwide. In the past year, the construction industry has seen its biggest increase in the last decade, but when it comes to Recovery Act projects, the best is yet to come. 

Thank you.

Last Reviewed 2010-11-24