June 27, 2013

Creating A More Stable Environment For Future Generations

Earlier this week, I watched President Obama make history by releasing the first ever comprehensive Climate Action Plan for the United States. This plan is needed now more than ever.  Recent events have shown how carbon pollution is affecting our environment. We’ve seen Hurricane Sandy destroy neighborhoods.  We’ve seen wildfires raging in Arizona, California and Colorado.  We’ve also experienced record setting droughts throughout the Midwest.  Clearly, carbon pollution is impacting our communities.  That’s why President Obama is taking bold action, recognizing that we have a moral obligation to leave a more stable environment for future generations.

The President’s plan will cut U.S. carbon pollution that causes climate change and threatens our health, and creates a path forward to develop homegrown energy. His plan also sparks innovation across a wide variety of energy technologies, resulting in cleaner forms of American-made energy and cutting our dependence on foreign oil. Combined with the President’s other actions to increase the efficiency of our cars and household appliances, the President’s plan will reduce the amount of energy consumed by American families, cutting down on their gas and utility bills.

In addition, the plan steps up the United States’ global efforts to lead on climate change and invests in strengthen our roads, bridges, and shorelines so we can better protect people’s homes, businesses, and way of life from severe weather.

What makes this plan effective is that numerous government agencies will be working together with one common goal – to reduce carbon pollution and emissions. I am proud to see that the plan puts HUD’s work on residential energy savings front and center by highlighting several exciting new and existing programs that are making a difference in our home energy consumption and positively impacting the communities we live in.

These programs include:

  •  Expanding the Better Buildings Challenge to Residential Buildings: Beginning this fall, multifamily building owners and managers will be able to participate in the prestigious Better Buildings Challenge by pledging to cut energy waste by 20% in 10 years. This program builds on a successful partnership between HUD and the Department of Energy that has greened over 1 million units of housing over the past four years.
  •  Establishing a Renewable Energy Target for Federally Subsidized Housing: HUD and other federal agencies are setting a goal to drastically increase the amount of renewable energy generated on-site at subsidized housing developments.  Some owners of HUD-assisted properties are already leading the charge, like the Denver Housing Authority with the installation of a 2.5 megawatt solar power plant with over 10,000 solar panels on 387 affordable housing buildings, or the El Paso Housing Authority, which recently opened the first “net-zero” senior housing project in the country.
  • Showcasing the Multifamily Energy Innovation Fund and Bringing Energy Efficiency Financing to Scale: In order to test new and innovative ways to cut energy bills and to finance energy efficiency upgrades in existing multifamily residential properties, HUD is implementing a $23 million fund, working with a dozen organizations on the cutting edge of bringing energy-saving solutions to the housing market. These affordable housing providers, technology firms, academic institutions and philanthropic organizations are testing new approaches to implement and to pay for these energy-saving upgrades. In the future that may become the model for financing energy retrofits on a wider scale.
  • Announcing the Formation of the FHA Single-Family Green Mortgage Roundtable: FHA will convene a single-family Green Mortgage Roundtable to identify strategies for better incorporating energy efficiency considerations in the underwriting and appraisal process for home mortgages insured by FHA.
  • Strengthening Energy Performance Contracting: Energy Performance Contracts will continue to be critical for HUD-financed and regulated public housing.  EPCs have already successfully leveraged approximately $1 billion in low-cost private sector financing.  HUD will maximize the program’s potential in public housing – and leverage related White House and DOE initiatives – as well as piloting this successful model in privately-owned HUD assisted multifamily housing.
  • Leveraging Policies to Improve Efficiency of Federally-Owned and Supported Building Stock: HUD will raise the bar on energy performance in affordable housing and will continue to work with our partners at DOE, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Transportation, the Treasury Department, and many other agencies to make sure our policies work to help accelerate energy efficiency in buildings.

We at HUD understand that, in order to tackle climate change and have an impact on the resiliency and sustainability of our country, we must all do our share and we must start now.

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