President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda is Lowering Energy Costs, Improving Housing Quality for Hard-Working Families, and Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions for Americans
President Biden is focused on building a clean energy economy from the bottom up and middle out that helps hard-working families save money, protects public health, creates good-paying jobs and tackles the climate crisis. Today, the Biden-Harris Administration is announcing new actions from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda to incorporate climate risk and mitigation into federally-supported housing. These steps will help American families save money on energy costs and keep their homes warm in the winter and cool in the summer, especially as communities across the country cope with climate-fueled extreme temperatures and volatile weather. These actions will also help tackle the climate crisis by lowering pollution from buildings. These steps will provide additional support for low- and moderate-income families, and complement tax credits that families and building owners can use under the Inflation Reduction Act to install energy-saving equipment and to make building upgrades. Today’s announcements make progress toward President Biden’s goal to retrofit four million buildings and two million homes during his first term.
PROTECTING FAMILIES, LOWERING ENERGY COSTS
- President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act is bringing cost savings and health benefits of clean energy to hard-working families. Today, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is releasing a more than $830 million funding notice for the Inflation Reduction Act’s Green and Resilient Retrofit Program (GRRP) and $4 billion in loan commitment authority for this new program. The bill also included $42.5 million for a new HUD initiative launching later this summer to collect and assess energy and water usage data from assisted multifamily housing properties. The GRRP is the largest HUD program to date that directly invests in energy efficiency and emissions reductions, clean energy, and climate resilience strategies across HUD-assisted multifamily housing. The GRRP is an important program for preserving quality housing in our communities, increasing resiliency to climate impacts, cutting energy waste, tackling the climate crisis, and lowering costs for families.
MAKING HOMES MORE ENERGY EFFICIENT, SAVING FAMILIES MONEY
- HUD, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) proposes to adopt the latest energy codes to improve the performance and efficiency of new homes, and help homeowners and renters save money. HUD estimates that hard-working families will save over 35% on energy costs by building homes using the latest energy codes. Through these actions, the Biden-Harris Administration will give communities the tools to build and retrofit safe, resilient, healthy, and efficient buildings that are powered by clean energy and constructed with low-carbon materials. Energy efficiency, electrification, and clean energy will make energy costs a smaller fraction of household expenses, insulating hard-working families and underserved communities’ volatile energy prices. This builds on President Biden’s National Initiative to Advance Building Codes, which supports modern building codes and standards that save lives, reduce property damage, and cut utility bills.
- Reducing the embodied carbon in building materials. In support of the Federal Buy Clean Initiative, HUD will now prioritize the use of building materials with lower embodied carbon for retrofits and new construction. These efforts will help scale up demand for American-made building materials that have less climate impact associated with mining, manufacturing, and transportation.
MAKING SOLAR MORE AFFORDABLE
- Connecting families to low-cost solar power. Building upon the national guidance last summer, HUD is helping families to subscribe to local community solar where available. With new guidance for how residents of master-metered HUD-assisted housing can benefit from solar, HUD will continue to set the stage for 4.5 million families to reap the benefits of community solar which, on average, can save families 10% per year on their electric bills. This announcement builds on Vice President’s recent trip to Dalton, Georgia, where she unveiled the largest community solar project in history.
SAVING FAMILIES MONEY ON ENERGY COSTS AND EXPANDING HOUSING FOR VULNERABLE POPULATIONS
- Tracking multi-family housing energy usage to save families money. Under this effort, HUD is now using benchmarking to track energy and water performance in multifamily buildings in an effort to help reduce the overall energy and emissions use of buildings. These efforts will help save multi-family housing residents money, by identifying and mitigating energy and water waste.
- Lowering lending costs for senior housing. FHA’s Green Mortgage Insurance Premium (MIP) program, which has supported the construction of nearly 14,000 homes, is expanding to residential care facilities, cutting energy costs and providing more funding for new and renovated assisted living and memory care facilities.
PROTECTING FAMILIES AGAINST FUTURE CLIMATE RISKS
- Supporting underserved communities and protecting them against climate and disaster risks. HUD’s Office of Field and Policy Management (FPM) is using a new risk and equity assessment tool to assist communities in developing plans to mitigate climate and disaster risk while supporting underserved communities through a series of stakeholder convenings of FY 2023 Climate Communities cohorts. This announcement builds on the announcement of HUD’s new Office of Disaster Management (ODM) and Office of Disaster Recovery (ODR) and the allocation of $3.3 billion in Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds and Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) and Mitigation (CDBG-MIT).
- Predicting climate impacts for residents and building owners. To protect owners in the face of a rapidly changing climate, FHA has updated its Environmental Assessment to include reasonably foreseeable climate impacts over the life of the mortgage and suggested mitigation measures that would be prudent to implement at the construction stage. This effort builds on HUD’s recent Policy Development and Research Disaster Recovery Tool Kit “Designing for Natural Hazards: A Resilience guide for Builders and Developers,” which was provided to building and developers seeking to incorporate climate resilience in housing.
ACCELERATING NET ZERO RETROFITS
- Yesterday, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) issued its biggest funding announcement to date to support net zero retrofits of federal buildings, saving taxpayers’ dollars. These retrofits advance the GSA’s efforts to achieve President Biden’s goal of net-zero emissions in the federal buildings portfolio by 2045 and his campaign commitment to building retrofits. IRA funding will enable hundreds of millions in energy savings and cost-saving retrofits at 42 federally-owned facilities through the GSA’s National Deep Energy Retrofit Program.
- Last month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released new details about the design of the $27 billion Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF), a first-of-its-kind, national-scale competitive grant program created by the President’s Inflation Reduction Act. The GGRF will catalyze investment in thousands of clean energy projects, including building retrofits, expand the capacity of community lenders to drive local economic growth, and deploy cost-saving solar energy on rooftops and in communities across the country, especially in low-income and disadvantaged communities and places that have historically shouldered the burden of harmful pollution.
These actions further the President’s Executive Order, Revitalizing Our Nation’s Commitment to Environmental Justice for All. Reducing energy burden, cutting emissions, and improving climate resilience is crucial to communities that face disproportionate climate risks, such as flooding, fire and extreme temperature. The national average energy burden for low-income households is three times higher than for non-low-income households.
Today’s announcements were made following last week’s convening at the White House with 24 states to highlight their efforts on commercial and residential building decarbonization policies and programs that lower utility bills, improve climate resilience, and reduce emissions.