Hammers could soon start pounding on roofs across America thanks to a bill unveiled in Frederick today intended to add tens of thousands of jobs to an ailing industry.
U.S. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.), co-sponsor of the bill, explained how the measure would help jump-start roofing jobs by changing the tax code to shorten the amount of time business have to pay for the depreciation of environmentally friendly roofs.
Cardin said the “Energy-Efficient Cool Roof Jobs Act” aims to help the struggling construction industry by creating 40,000 jobs nationwide and encouraging energy efficiency.
Cardin spoke to a small crowd from a podium at the front of a pole barn at Kalkreuth Roofing and Sheet Metal, with shelves of roofing materials standing behind him as he faced a line of cameras.
Duane Musser, vice president of government relations for National Roofing Contractors Association, said the bill provides the opportunity for small businesses to move forward with a less expensive roof.
Musser said that tax code requires that businesses pay for the depreciation of a roof for 39 years. Cardin’s bill would make it 20 years.
“If you reduce it to 20 years, that’s basically a tax cut on that investment,” he said.
The bill only covers energy-efficient roofs, which generally cost around 20 percent more than a regular roof.
Musser said the energy-efficient roofs have two components: increased insulation and a “cool roof,” or a white roof that reflects light.
Musser said the average lifespan of a commercial roof is 17 years, but businesses often repair it piecemeal to make it last for 39 years. “That’s not good for jobs, and that’s not good for energy efficiency,” he said.
David Hesse, vice president of the Maryland division of Kalkreuth Roofing and Sheet Metal, which employs 78 people in Frederick, said the energy-efficient roofs are a simple process.
“It’s not much more complicated than the traditional roof replacement?” Cardin asked.
“Not at all,” Hesse said.
Cardin said the bill will address two critical issues: creating more jobs and saving energy.
One of out of every three jobs lost during the recession have been in contracting and manufacturing, Cardin said.
According to Cardin, a July report by the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation found that 14.1 percent of the 2010 unemployment insurance claims were from the construction industry, making it the largest source of unemployment insurance claims in the state.
Nationwide, the construction industry has lost more than 2 million jobs due to economic downturn.
“It will create jobs,” Cardin said. “40,000 jobs to not only help in Frederick County … but help in the nation.”
State and county numbers were not available.
Musser said the bill would not only add 40,000 jobs, but also around $1 billion in taxable revenue yearly, he said.
Don VanLandingham, an estimator for Kalkreuth, moved to Maryland three years ago from Florida for a job. He said he doesn’t love the snow, but he came for the employment in an industry in which private work is down, and government work up.
“The opportunities down there were really bad,” said the 30-year construction industry veteran.
He said he did have hopes for the new bill.
“It will definitely impact us,” he said. “The more people do, the better it is for us, but also everyone in this business.”