and Jobs Act (“IIJA”)
Frequently Asked Questions and References
On November 15, 2021 the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) was signed into law, providing for a spending package of $1.2 trillion. As part of IIJA, the Build America, Buy American Act is currently in a proposed state to impose baseline domestic preference procurement on all infrastructure projects receiving federal financial assistance.
Acuity Brands provides a portfolio of sustainable, inspiring, and intelligent lighting solutions that allow you to enhance spaces and improve energy efficiency, all while reducing the impact on the environment. We are pleased to provide a resource for your frequently asked questions regarding IIJA.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act?
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (“IIJA”), also known as the “bipartisan infrastructure bill” or “BIF” was signed into law by President Biden on November 15, 2021. The legislation includes a total of $1.2 Trillion in spending, including $550 Billion in new spending on transportation infrastructure, water infrastructure, resilience, broadband access, and electric vehicle charging stations. Specific sections also focus on reducing the carbon footprint of public infrastructure.
What is Build America, Buy America (BABA)?
BABA was enacted as part of the Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) in November 2021. BABA established content procurement preference for all federal financial assistance obligated for infrastructure projects after May 14, 2022. In its current proposed state, all iron, steel, manufactured products and construction materials used in infrastructure projects must be produced in the United States for use of federal funding established through IIJA.
How does the Build America, Buy America Act (BABA) differ from the Buy America(n) Act (BAA)?
BABA is included in IIJA and in its current proposed state, establishes a domestic content procurement preference for discretionary spending on IIJA grant funded infrastructure projects. The Buy America(n) Act (BAA) has separate procurement rules that apply to mandatory spending through the federal budgeting process for existing Buy America and Buy American regulations.
Does the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act include provisions for “Build America, Buy America” or “Buy America(n)”?
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act enacted BABA, which currently statutorily directs the application of “Buy America” domestic preference policies to federal financial assistance programs for infrastructure. For information regarding the application of Buy America, refer to www.madeinamerica.gov, including information on all waivers and exceptions. For more information on domestic preference requirements and Acuity Brands solutions, please reference https://www.acuitybrands.com/resources/trending-topics/buy-american.
When BABA rules are defined, it will direct the application of domestic preference policies to federal financial assistance programs for infrastructure, IIJA.
IIJA/BABA projects use different funding streams than initiatives utilizing funds with Buy America(n) requirements. Buy America(n) applies to mandatory spending for existing legislature while BABA applies to discretionary spending for infrastructure projects funded through IIJA.
BABA is currently in a proposed state and its rules for application within IIJA are not yet fully defined. Different Agencies are currently interpreting the BABA provisions based on previous and forward-looking standards. It is important to obtain the bid document so these provisions can be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
When will the Build America, Buy America Act (BABA) come into effect/have defined rules?
As of May 14, 2022, BABA in its proposed state establishes a domestic content procurement preference for all federal financial assistance obligated for infrastructure projects. However, BABA is currently in a proposed state and its rules for application within IIJA are not yet fully defined.
Are there any provisional waivers planned for Build America, Buy America (BABA)?
Yes. Government agencies may establish waivers to BABA requirements on the basis of nonavailability, cost, or public interest. Waivers are limited to specific projects or specific time periods.
At this time, the Federal Highway Administration’s general waiver for manufactured goods currently waives BABA requirements for manufactured products that do not include steel and iron components.
Which projects or upgrades are targeted by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act?
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act focuses on public infrastructure and government facilities. Highlights include:
- Funds and policies targeting energy efficiency, carbon reduction, safety/security, and resilience of public infrastructure - roadway, transit, and ports;
- Funds for energy-efficient upgrades to airports;
- Funds through the Maritime Administration (MARAD) Port Infrastructure Development Program (PIDP) to improve port infrastructure and reduce greenhouse gas emissions;
- Grants for electric vehicle charging and fueling infrastructure which may include lighting and controls for sites or facilities supporting these infrastructure locations;
- Grants for energy efficiency improvements and renewable energy improvements at public school facilities;
- Smart grid investments to provide demand flexibility, such as controls and building management systems;
- Grants to assist states in adopting and enforcing effective building codes, driving demand for energy efficient systems throughout all areas of the U.S;
- Information on additional infrastructure funding available under IIJA is available at Build.gov
What is the opportunity for public schools?
Under section 40541, $500 million in grants have been authorized for school energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements. These funds will be available on a competitive basis from the Department of Energy, based on applications submitted by eligible entities, which are defined as a consortium of:
- One local educational agency; and
- One or more –
b. Nonprofit organizations that have the knowledge and capacity to partner and assist with energy improvements;
c. For-profit organizations that have the knowledge and capacity to partner and assist with energy improvements; or
d. Community partners that have the knowledge and capacity to partner and assist with energy improvements.
How will the Department of Energy prioritize applications for public schools’ energy efficiency and renewable energy improvement grants?
Applications will be prioritized and competitively evaluated based on a number of factors, including:
- Whether they are in need of renovation, repair, and improvement;
- Whether they serve a high percentage of students who qualify for free or reduced price lunch;
- Whether the partnering local educational agency is in a rural district; and
- Whether the entity leverages private sector investment through energy-related performance contracting.
The competitive criteria will include:
- The extent of the disparity between the fiscal capacity of the eligible entity to carry out energy improvements at school facilities and the needs of the partnering local educational agency for those energy improvements, including the consideration of—
a. the current and historic ability of the partnering local educational agency to raise funds for construction, renovation, modernization, and major repair projects for schools;
b. the ability of the partnering local educational agency to issue bonds or receive other funds to support the current infrastructure needs of the partnering local educational agency for schools; and
c. the bond rating of the partnering local educational agency.
- The likelihood that the partnering local educational agency or eligible entity will maintain, in good condition, any school and school facility that is the subject of improvements.
- The potential energy efficiency and safety benefits from the proposed energy improvements.
When will funding be available?For most programs, funding will be made available starting in 2022. However, funding for most of the bill’s programs will be spread out over 5 years.
How will the funds be allocated and distributed?Funds will be distributed through a variety of agencies along with states and localities. The provisions that present opportunities for new or upgraded lighting solutions will be distributed primarily by the Department of Energy and the Department of Transportation. For most of the funding, federal agencies will either provide direct funding, or issue grants to states and localities to identify the highest priority projects that qualify for the funding opportunities. Priorities may be based on improvements related to carbon reduction, resiliency, and supporting underserved communities.