April 17, 2009

The User’s Guide: Find a Federal Stimulus Design and Construction Project for Your Firm
Who has the money, and who knows what they’re going to do with it, revealed

By Zach Mortice
Associate Editor

Summary: The $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) that was signed into law in February has just now begun releasing torrents of tax dollars into an economy plagued by frozen credit markets, consumer anxiety, and a deepening recession. In line with the AIA’s Rebuild and Renew government advocacy initiative, much of this funding is already being applied directly to the built environment as new construction projects, renovations, repairs, and sustainability upgrades, though an emphasis on “shovel ready” projects may limit some design opportunities. Even more is yet to come. Most ARRA money won’t have been spent till next year, according to the Washington Post.

The AIA estimates that the ARRA contains up to $130 billion that can be used for the design and construction of buildings. Agency by agency, budget by budget, and (when possible) project by project, this is your guide to the brave new 21st century world of emergency federal investment in the built environment.

General Services Administration
The GSA has compiled one of the most detailed lists of ARRA-funded projects of all federal agencies. In total, the stimulus bill provides $5.5 billion for new construction, renovations, repairs, and sustainability upgrades at federal facilities across the nation.

This includes $734 million for federal building and courthouse construction, $300 million for border station construction, $4.3 billion for high-performance energy upgrades, which will include sustainable redesigns of previously planned renovations. The largest single new construction project in the GSA’s ARRA portfolio is the $450 million-St. Elizabeth’s Hospital campus in Washington, D.C., which will become the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) headquarters. DHS is receiving $200 million for this project, and $300 million for its border station construction projects. Three billion dollars has been allocated to the GSA for full and partial building modernizations, which will provide more design work for architects than the $806 million assigned to limited scope renovation projects. These initiatives are at all stages of development; some are already designed, but others will be new design opportunities. Details on how businesses can inquire about this work are available here. The GSA will use FedBizOps to announce contracting opportunities for ARRA funding.

Housing and Urban Development
Among funds it received in ARRA, HUD was provided $4 billion for the energy-efficiency modernization and renovation of public housing facilities. This includes a $3 billion general Public Housing Capital Fund that will be used for building and renovating public housing units and will be distributed by a standard formula. State and local public housing agencies will also be able to compete for a $995 million block of funding. Much of this money will go towards filling HUD’s $18 billion project backlog. In addition $1 billion worth of Community Development Block Grants for state and local governments will be issued, and a $731 million Neighborhood Stabilization fund will be used to buy up foreclosed and distressed properties and rehabilitate them. All of this money will be distributed at the state and local level by local housing agencies. For information on how local agencies are planning to distribute these funds, visit the National Council of State Housing Authorities.

Department of Defense
The military is planning to spend $5.9 billion on 3,000 construction and renovation projects, which represents the bulk of their $7.4 billion share of ARRA. Over a billion dollars have been allocated for military hospitals alone. The two largest projects are new hospitals at Camp Pendleton in Calif., with an estimated design cost of $28 million and a final project cost of $563 million, and at Fort Hood in Texas, with design fee estimates at $86 million and an overall project cost at $621 million. Other large design projects include installing $26 million worth of photovoltaic panels at Navy facilities in Norfolk, Va., and an $86 million housing facility project at the Coronado Naval base in California. The U.S. Army Core of Engineers is getting $2 billion for Civil Works construction programs. The DoD’s entire spending plan is available on the DefenseLink site. These projects will be contracted out using FedBizOps. Many of them will emphasize green and sustainable construction and infrastructure.

Department of the Interior
The DOI is receiving $3 billion, much of which will be used for building and construction projects promoting and improving sustainable energy infrastructure. The agency doesn’t have a specific project list yet, though they hope to have one by May 1, according to the Washington Post. Half a billion dollars will go to the Bureau of Indian Affairs to replace and upgrade Indian reservation schools. The U.S. Geological Survey will receive $140 million to restore and rehabilitate laboratories and research facilities, making them more energy-efficient. Many of these projects have already been designed and are simply waiting on funding. Funds will be distributed from the DOI directly via Grants.gov and FedBizOps.

Department of Transportation
The DOT is distributing its share of ARRA funding through its various associated agencies. The Federal Transit Administration (which funds all types of public transit systems) will receive $8.4 billion for capital investments in transit systems. This money will be allotted by state. The FTA must have a plan prepared for Congress for this $8 billion by April 18, but a few projects have already been announced, such as $36 million for light rail in Phoenix. This money will be distributed using Grants.gov and FedBizOps.

The Federal Aviation Administration is receiving $1.1 billion, $229 million of which has been allotted for aviation infrastructure. This includes a new $15 million airport in Alaska and new airport terminals in Michigan, Minnesota, Louisiana, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Utah.

Through the Federal Railroad Administration, Amtrak is receiving $1.3 billion, which will double the size of its capital investment program over a two-year period. Of this amount, $845 million will be for railroad and station repair, renovation, and construction capital projects. This includes the construction of a new $10.5 million train station in Sanford, Fla. Amtrak’s Wilmington, Del., station will receive a $21 million restoration, and more than 200 stations in 40 states will receive ADA upgrades worth a total of $40 million. System-wide, Amtrak will use ARRA money to pay for $105 million of facility repairs. FRA money will be distributed using FedBizOps and Grants.gov. The FRA also received $8 billion that can go towards high-speed rail corridor development projects and projects that reduce transit congestion.

Department of Energy
The DOE is getting $3.2 billion in Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants for projects that reduce energy use and fossil fuel emissions and improve energy efficiency. This money can be used for energy audits, energy efficiency retrofits in residential and commercial buildings, and the development and implementation of more sustainable building codes. It will be distributed primarily at the city and county level.

The DOE is also to receive $3.1 billion, to be distributed at the state level, for their State Energy Program, which funds states to carry out their own clean energy programs and projects. A $5 billion Weatherization Assistance Program will help low income Americans weatherize their homes to make them more energy efficient.

Information on the types of DOE ARRA funding and its distribution is available here. For more information on how DOE building and construction ARRA funds will be distributed, visit the National Association of State Energy Officials FAQ Web site.

Department of Veterans Affairs
The VA will spend $1 billion on maintenance and construction projects, many of which place an emphasis on green and sustainable building. Allocated for alternative energy and energy efficiency upgrades is $140 million. Relatively few of these projects will be new construction. Also, the agency is getting $50 million for repair and renovation of monuments and memorials. Interested contractors can look for these opportunities on FedBizOps and Grants.gov.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
NOAA will spend $600 million on the construction and repair of its facilities and equipment. This includes $9 million to upgrade NOAA weather forecast offices in Barrow and Nome, Alaska; $142 million to complete the construction of its Pacific Regional Center in Honolulu; $102 million for the design and construction of the NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla, Calif.; and $9 million to construct a replacement of a Fairbanks, Alaska satellite facility. Also, $8.6 million will be used for general repairs and renovations at other facilities. Much of this funding will be used to address project backlogs on construction projects already under way or designed. Projects will be contracted and bid out using use FedBizOps.

Smithsonian Institution
The Smithsonian’s Arts and Industries Building will get $4.6 million for repairs and renovations. The National Zoo is receiving $11.4 million worth of repair and renovation money, and various other facilities will get $9 million. Projects will be contracted and bid out using use FedBizOps.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Fifty million dollars will go towards repairing facilities damaged by natural disasters last year. Projects will be contracted and bid out using FedBizOps and NASA’s own acquisition service.

Environmental Projection Agency
The EPA will receive $4 billion for water quality and wastewater infrastructure and $2 billion for drinking water infrastructure. This money will be distributed at the state level.

United States Department of Agriculture
The USDA is getting $1.1 billion for its Community Facilities loan program, which funds construction and renovation of of basic community amenities in rural towns. Eligible applicants are units of local government, non-profit organizations, and Indian tribes. The USDA is also getting $176 million for agricultural research facility renovations and repairs. This money will be distributed using FedBizOpps. The agency will also receive $130 million allotted for loans and grants for the construction and improvement of rural community schools and colleges.

National Institute of Standards and Technology
The $360 million NIST is getting for construction and renovation projects is being split into two $180 million funds. Half is designated for projects on NIST’s campuses in Maryland and Colorado. The other half is designated for a competitive construction grant program that funds science research facilities outside of NIST. Universities and nonprofits are eligible for this funding, which will be posted at Grants.gov and on the NIST Web site. The agency doesn’t have a project lists yet for either portion of this funding, though NIST campus projects will likely address the agency’s $504 million construction backlog.

National Science Foundation
The NSF will be spending $200 million on the modernization of academic research facilities. Colleges and universities will be eligible for this money. The agency will also be spending $400 million on research facilities as part of its Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction Account.

National Institutes of Health
The NIH will spend $500 million in ARRA funds on repair, construction, and improvement projects on its own campuses.

Department of Education
Though school construction isn’t funded directly through the ARRA, a $48.6 billion State Fiscal Stabilization Fund provides money for schools facing budget cuts brought on by the recession. One possible use for this money (which is to be distributed at the discretion of state governors, local politicians, and school districts) is school renovation, repairs, modernization, and new construction. Higher education institutions are prohibited from using these State Fiscal Stabilization Funding for new construction. Most of this funding will be distributed by a formula. Spending guidance for the Department of Education’s Impact Aid program offers additional flexibility for districts wanting to construct new facilities, according to Education Week. The ARRA contains $100 million of Impact Aid money, which is typically used as funding for schools in federally owned, tax-exempt areas (Indian reservations, military bases, etc.).

news headlines

recent related
AIA’s Rebuild and Renew Plan Puts Building Money Into the Public Sector
House Passes Stimulus Bill with Key Provisions of AIA’s Rebuild and Renew Plan
AIA Develops Plan to Simulate the Economy and Create 1.6 Million Jobs in Building Sector

Visit Recovery.gov

Visit FedBizOps. and Grants.gov.

See what the Center for Communities by Design is up to.