Energy, GSA, and EPA Announce New Programs to Electrify Buildings, Invest $30M in America’s Workforce, and Save Consumers Money
Today, the White House convened leaders from across the Administration to announce new federal investments in building energy efficiency and electrification, as well as new opportunities to modernize homes and businesses which will create good-paying, union jobs.
National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy, Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) Chair Brenda Mallory, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, General Services Administration (GSA) Acting Administrator Katy Kale, and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan met today with building sector leaders, including developers and owners, labor unions and trade organizations, public housing authorities, and heat pump manufacturers. The meeting advances President Biden’s goal of modernizing and upgrading the nation’s residential and commercial buildings to be affordable, resilient, accessible, energy efficient, and electrified.
In his first 100 days in office, President Biden took sweeping steps to build a new American infrastructure and clean energy economy that will create millions of new jobs. The President issued an Executive Order announcing bold targets to achieve a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035 and put the United States on an irreversible path to a net-zero economy by 2050. And the Department of Energy rebooted the efficiency standards program that will save consumers money through energy efficient appliances and equipment. The President recognizes the opportunity that retrofitting and modernizing our nation’s existing buildings presents, which is why his American Jobs Plan promises to build, rehabilitate, and retrofit more than two million homes across the country while also improving our nation’s federal facilities. This effort will create new domestic manufacturing opportunities for electric heating and cooling technology, invest in research and development to spur smart building advances, and forge collaborations that will enable buildings to be powered by clean electricity.
Additionally, independent analysts at the Coalition for Green Capital and Rewiring America issued a report today that shows how the Clean Energy Accelerator proposed in the American Jobs Plan could be used to drive an electrification program to secure energy bill savings of up to $750 per year for nearly 12 million American households (75 percent of which are low- to moderate-income). At the same time, the report found that the program, working through the Accelerator, could create nearly 700,000 good-paying, local jobs in every region in the country, while also driving down greenhouse gas emissions from households by up to 40 million metric tons a year by 2030, which is the equivalent of taking more than eight million cars off the road. The report also estimates that advancing the Clean Energy Accelerator could catalyze tens of billions in private sector co-investment through this program, and that 90% of investment delivered through the proposal would directly benefit low-to moderate-income households.
The findings of this report underscore the importance of today’s announcements from the White House addressing a series of concrete actions to modernize and electrify our buildings, invest in America’s workforce, and drive innovations of the future.
Investing in America’s Workforce and Creating Jobs
- Announcing $30M investment in the American workforce. Constructing, retrofitting, and electrifying America’s buildings is only possible with a strong, skilled, diverse, and growing workforce. DOE announced it is expanding its support for organizations – including unions, trade associations, and educational institutions – that prepare people to join the workforces of the future, and support career pathways for a diverse, qualified, and well-paid workforce that can support the development/construction of high-performance buildings. Through technical assistance and funding awards, DOE will fund up to $30M of these efforts with workforce development and job-creation leaders.
Launching New Federal Performance Standards to Lead by Example
- Announcing New Federal Building Performance Standards. CEQ is launching an interagency Federal sustainability effort with GSA, DOE, and EPA to develop the first-ever building performance standards (BPS) for the federal government. The BPS will establish metrics, targets, and tracking methods to reach federal carbon emissions goals. The performance standards will identify progressive performance milestones as well as the resources that agencies need to meet them.
Establishing New Partnerships to Kickstart Demand for High-Performance Buildings
The Biden Administration is dedicated to working with the private sector, labor unions, building and home owners, and manufacturers in the building industry to electrify and modernize new and existing buildings. Additionally, the Administration will support city, state, and tribal governments through expanded partnerships to develop new tools and resources to make buildings more energy efficient, affordable, and healthy. These partnerships will include:
- Launching the low-carbon buildings pilot. Through the Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Initiative and in coordination with Housing and Urban Development, DOE is announcing the first 55 commercial, industrial, and multifamily organizations to participate in the Low-Carbon Buildings Pilot program, which will share lessons learned for real world pathways to low and no emission buildings.
- Establishing a nationwide heat pump water heating deployment initiative. In partnership with the Advanced Water Heating Initiative, DOE is launching a new initiative to increase market adoption of high-efficiency, grid-connected Heat Pump Water Heaters in residential and commercial buildings – which are two to four times more efficient than conventional water heaters – in homes across the country.
- Committing to new and expanded EPA partnership programs. EPA is launching new residential and commercial sector partnerships to accelerate efficiency and electrification retrofits with a focus on underserved residential households through the ENERGY STAR Home Upgrade program, accelerate building electrification through an advanced ENERGY STAR certification for new residential buildings, and recognize commercial buildings through a new zero-carbon commercial building certification. It will also launch a new and Greenhouse Gas tool linked to its Portfolio Manager tool.
Accelerating Domestic Manufacturing, Innovation, and Affordability of New and Existing Buildings
- Announcing a new national research initiative focused on innovating clean and efficient building heating and cooling systems. Today, DOE will launch the Initiative for Better Energy, Emissions, and Equity (E3 Initiative), putting $10M toward accelerating the research and adoption of heat pump technologies. As part of the E3 Initiative, DOE will launch a Cold Climate Heat Pump Technology Challenge to accelerate the development of high performing cold climate heat pump technologies. Another important component will be new research efforts partnering National Laboratories and manufacturers to accelerate the development of lower to no global warming potential refrigerants that can be quickly commercialized.
- Releasing a national grid-interactive efficient buildings roadmap. Today, DOE is releasing the Grid-interactive Efficient Buildings (GEB) Roadmap, with 14 recommendations to better integrate buildings with solar and wind power through smart operation of electricity demand and storage. Smart buildings allow consumers to have more choice over building operations and provide the ability to manage energy loads and reduce energy bills. Over the next two decades, national adoption of GEBs would create savings of $100–200 billion across the electric power system and could decrease emissions in the power sector by 6% per year.
- Releasing a blueprint to integrate GEB Technologies into Energy Savings Contracts. GSA is releasing a blueprint to integrate grid-interactive technologies into federal building renovation and improvement projects, particularly using energy savings, and utility energy savings contracts. The blueprint puts practical guidance and tools into the hands of building operators to help them integrate GEB technologies into current and future performance contracts.
- Announcing new ENERGY STAR standards to advance heat pump technology and fast chargers for electric vehicles. If all heat pumps, central air conditioners, and electric water heaters sold in the U.S. met the new ENERGY STAR standards, the energy cost savings would grow to $11 billion a year, and 255 billion tons of annual greenhouse gas emissions would be avoided. These new standards will increase American households’ and businesses’ access to affordable heating, cooling, water heating, and transportation options.