This month I attended the third annual Better Buildings Challenge Summit in Washington, D.C., where hundreds of America’s most influential commercial and industrial energy efficiency leaders came together to share the latest, most innovative, and most effective solutions to cut energy waste and carbon emissions from our nation’s commercial, industrial, and residential buildings. There, I had the opportunity to meet many of the passionate, forward-thinking leaders who have signed up as Partners and hear about their successes and challenges. I left both inspired by their commitment and humbled by its sheer magnitude.
The Better Buildings Challenge is a voluntary commitment. When partners sign on to participate, they publicly commit to reducing energy intensity (and in some cases, water intensity) across their entire building portfolio by 20% within 10 years. They commit to sharing information about how they are reaching their efficiency goals on the Better Buildings Solution Center website. And they agree to make available portfolio-wide, whole building energy performance information within 12 months of joining the program and track progress on an annual basis.
As part of the President’s Climate Action Plan, HUD partnered with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to expand the Better Buildings Challenge to the multifamily housing sector. Just three years into our partnership, we are thrilled to report that we have passed the 100-partner mark and expanded the square footage coverage of the program by nearly 60%. In fact, with a total of 108 partners who manage over 650,000 affordable or market-rate apartments, multifamily housing has become the largest sector of the Better Buildings Challenge in partner count – a testimony to the deep commitment of housing companies, organizations, and agencies to combating climate change (Read the BBC Progress Report).
HUD invests more than $6 billion per year – 14% of our entire budget – on energy and water costs for the federal affordable housing portfolio. By committing to tracking energy performance of their multifamily buildings, these BBC partners are both strengthening the energy management of these buildings and also helping to make progress on HUD’s goal of getting better information on the energy and water performance of public and assisted housing.
HUD is also setting ambitious targets for expanding renewable energy in the affordable housing sector with the Renew300 initiative, which aims for 300 megawatts (MW) of installed solar and other forms of renewable energy by 2020 (either on-site or community-scale). Thanks to the commitments of affordable housing providers across the country, 225 MW have been pledged towards the Renew 300 goal. Most recently, we received our largest individual pledge to-date – the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) has set an audacious goal of installing 25 MW by 2025. NYCHA has also made the largest commitment to the Multifamily Better Buildings Challenge thus far, setting a 20% energy reduction target for just over 175 million square feet of housing.
HUD is proud to support our multifamily partners as they work to meet their Better Buildings Challenge and Renew 300 pledges. We celebrate their leadership as early adopters of energy efficiency practices that are setting the pace for the industry and for the rest of HUD’s portfolio. You can read Secretary Castro’s BBC Summit keynote address to learn more about HUD’s commitment to renewables, energy efficiency, and resilience.
Harriet Tregoning is the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Community Planning and Development.