SMACNA and the Sheet Metal Workers union are urging Congress to pass a bill that it says would improve energy efficiency and boost construction jobs.

The Commercial Building Modernization Act was introduced by Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) with Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) signing on as co-sponsors.

A letter, signed by officials with the Sheet Metal and Air-Conditioning Contractors’ National Association, and the International Association of Sheet Metal, Rail and Transportation Workers, said the bill would improve upon the federal better buildings initiative to increase energy retrofit work.

“Enhancing facility energy efficiency is a key factor in driving down the operating expenses of public spaces while boosting the productivity and commercial competitiveness of rental properties,” officials from SMACNA and SMART wrote. “We speak from vast experience as thousands of our members have retrofitted commercial office buildings, warehouses, schools, and multi-unit residential facilities for high efficiency impact. …

“Our skilled workers and contractors are continually trained, retrained and educated on the latest innovations and technologies involved in energy retrofits. Our unparalleled focus on innovative developments is a core part of our joint labor – management-directed apprenticeship programs and contractor energy-management education.

“We believe Sens. Snowe and Bingaman have produced a balanced and bipartisan reform in this bill that will invigorate energy efficiency construction activity across the United States. When coupled with existing energy efficiency tax and program initiatives driving the private sector toward greater energy efficiency in residential and commercial building markets, (the bill) would quickly benefit skilled jobs, energy efficiency and the construction economy.”