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The President, the Packers and Winning One for the American People

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I found myself sitting at the kitchen table last night, long after the President and the Packers were done.

The Packers won. What was keeping me up was the thought that the country might actually be able to pull our own victory out of what has been increasingly feeling like an end-of-the-fourth-quarter goal-line stand.

Clearly the President was channeling Knute Rockne, Joe Paterno, Bear Bryant and every other great coach out there. Focus on the fundamentals. Block, tackle and don't get distracted. Want it more than anything you've ever wanted in your life. That's how you win.

And we need a win. WE. The American people. We need a game plan that's clear, straightforward and no-nonsense. And fewer are better at delivering on the fundamentals than our USGBC members and the green building movement. I say, "Put us in, Coach."

Despite all the technology enablers that we've dreamed up, and all the fantastic advances in materials science and the awe-inspiring design innovations that have been conceived, what we do in our industry is as straightforward and as people-centric as it gets: Our industry puts shovels in people's hands and foundations get poured. It puts wrenches in people's hands and steel rises. It puts hammers in people's hands and homes get built. It puts the controls of massive bulldozers in people's hands and roads and bridges get shored up.

Building is a noble act and building sustainably is an act of nation-building that in 10 short years has created a $60 billion industry that never existed before. Our hard-won environmental efforts have spawned jobs and unleashed innovation, and unlocking the massive fuel source of energy efficiency creates jobs that can't be exported.

Nowhere is that more important than in our homes, our neighborhoods and our schools. In fact, our schools have long been ringing the alarm, and there are thousands of projects out there that are ready to go the minute the funding is available. On average, our schools are more than 40 years old. Nearly a quarter of them require extensive repair just to meet basic health and safety standards, and 15,000 schools have air that had been deemed unfit to breathe. Our kids deserve school buildings that enhance their learning and their health, not compromise it, and this is a way to deliver on that promise.

Our workplaces are no less in need of improvement. The green building industry has suggested a fix to an existing tax incentive, Section 179D, that would put 77,000 people to work improving offices, malls, and supermarkets immediately. There is no downside for the Administration or any member of Congress to picking up this suggestion and running with it.

It's baffled me that we let ourselves get to this fourth and inches situation on the jobs front. But we're here. So I say, let's get on with it. It's time we won one for the American people.

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