When President Obama declared in his State of the Union address last week that “climate change is a fact,” he was right. The record setting droughts that are still taking place in the Southwest, the intense wild fires in Colorado last summer, and the extreme heat waves experienced all over the world cannot be ignored.
The President also acknowledged that we can and must act, that’s why in his Climate Action Plan, he issued a new goal to cut energy waste in half in America’s homes and businesses. Through the Better Buildings Challenge, he called on leading CEOs and executives of U.S companies, universities, and state and local governments to commit to reducing the energy used across their building portfolios by 20 percent or more by 2020. The Better Buildings Challenge has already produced remarkable results. Commercial and industrial leaders are on track to meet the President’s goal by cutting energy use by 2.5 percent annually, equivalent to about $58 million in energy savings per year. That is real progress.
Last December, HUD and the U.S. Department of Energy announced the expansion of the Better Buildings Challenge to include multifamily housing. In just a few months, over 50 multifamily partners have joined the Better Buildings Challenge; and each has committed to cutting energy waste across their entire portfolio by 20% within the next 10 years. That represents roughly 200 million square feet across nearly 300,000 homes. These organizations have partnered with the Federal Government to not only set an aggressive goal of reducing energy use, but also to share their successful strategies as models for others to follow.
Last Friday, Secretary Donovan visited Cherry Hill Homes in Baltimore, MD to see first-hand how energy efficiency improvements adopted by the Housing Authority of Baltimore City (HABC) are helping save more than $3 million in annual energy costs per year. The housing authority’s focus on both capital improvements and tenant consumption has produced remarkable results. In fact, one study found that resident engagement efforts alone resulted in an astonishing 28% energy reduction. Recognized as one of the Better Buildings Challenge first multifamily partners, this exciting collaboration between resident leaders and the visionary staff at HABC can serve as a model for other communities to follow.
As the Better Buildings Challenge continues to expand, we hope to positively impact thousands of communities throughout the country, and help millions of American families save energy, save money, and make a difference in the fight against climate change.
To find out more about the Better Buildings Challenge, please visit www.energy.gov/betterbuildings.
Trisha Miller is a Senior Advisor in HUD’s Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities.