HUD Honors Earth Day with Announcement and Event, Reiterates Commitment to Tackling Climate Crisis
Under the Biden-Harris Administration and the leadership of Secretary Marcia L. Fudge, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has taken significant action on a robust, cohesive, and agency-wide strategy to reduce the agency’s energy and carbon footprint and put all our nation’s communities on the path to building more equitable, efficient, and sustainable housing infrastructure. In November of 2021, HUD released its Climate Action Plan in response to President Biden’s Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad.
In keeping with the executive order, as well as the President’s Justice40 Initiative to advance environmental justice and racial equity, HUD will continue to implement a broad approach to the climate crisis that reduces climate pollution; increases resilience to the impacts of climate change; protects public health; delivers environmental justice; and spurs well-paying union jobs and economic growth. In addition, HUD will work to allocate resources in a manner that addresses the historic failure of the Federal government to invest equitably in underserved communities, particularly communities of color.
HUD Leadership Participates in Event in D.C.
HUD Deputy Secretary Adrianne Todman is commemorating the 52nd anniversary of Earth Day with a visit to Community Solar at Oxon Run, which will be the largest clean energy project in Washington, D.C. focused on serving neighborhood residents. Deputy Secretary Todman will underscore the Department’s commitment to tackling the climate crisis and helping communities across the nation build more resilient infrastructure, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, create well-paid jobs, and pursue environmental justice. Deputy Secretary Todman will be joined by the District of Columbia’s Department of Energy & Environment and will announce action HUD is taking in support of D.C.’s “Solar for All” initiative to ensure that D.C. residents of HUD-assisted Multifamily housing benefit from solar energy without experiencing increased housing costs.
HUD Action on Earth Day
D.C.’s “Solar for All” initiative aims to bring the benefits of solar energy to 100,000 families with low to moderate incomes in the District of Columbia. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has determined that D.C. Solar for All’s community-net-metering (CNM) credits will be excluded from household income and utility allowance calculations and therefore will not increase housing costs for residents in properties participating in HUD Multifamily rental assistance programs.
In a growing number of states, community solar helps ensure that low- to moderate-income renters and residents of multifamily buildings directly benefit from the transition to clean energy.
HUD is well-positioned to advance the Biden-Harris Administration’s Justice40 Initiative objectives, address climate concerns, and create benefits for residents of HUD assisted housing through the equitable deployment of community solar. As part of HUD’s commitment to furthering more efficient, sustainable, and equitable housing, the Department will work with states to ensure that the benefits of such programs, like CA’s Solar on Multifamily Affordable Housing program and DC’s Solar for All program, flow to HUD residents. Localities considering similar solar energy programs can reach out to HUD to discuss how to best coordinate with the Department.
HUD’s actions this week build on ongoing work at the Department to promote climate resilience, environmental justice, energy efficiency, and health across the housing sector.
Better Climate Challenge
In February, HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge joined Department of Energy Secretary Jennifer M. Granholm and White House National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy to announce the inaugural Better Climate Challenge, a private-public partnership led by DOE with over 80 American businesses and organizations that have signed on to ambitious carbon reduction goals. The Better Climate Challenge also encourages partners to share pathways to decarbonization among each other to multiply the impact of their innovative strategies to decarbonize. HUD supports the multifamily component of the Better Climate Challenge, one of several building sectors participating in the Challenge. Of the more than 80 inaugural partners who committed to the Challenge, seven were public housing or multifamily partners serving 40,000 low-and moderate-income households across the country. Through the Better Climate Challenge, HUD and DOE provide a national platform for organizations to make public commitments, share replicable solutions, including through the use of solar energy solutions, leverage technical expertise, and gain recognition.
Climate Action Plan
HUD’s Climate Action Plan, released at the beginning of this fiscal year focuses on climate adaptation and resilience, greenhouse gas emissions reductions, and environmental justice. Highlights of the plan include the following:
- HUD Climate Communities Initiative: Cities and localities are on the front lines of the climate emergency, and low-income residents and people of color often bear more of the impact when climate-related disasters strike. HUD, in partnership with local leaders, launched a suite of resources, support, and tools to help cities respond to equitably the climate crisis. This includes a climate resilience toolkit, implementation models, peer-to-peer learning opportunities, stakeholder engagement with underserved communities, and direct support to a cohort of climate cities. You can find a lot of these resources and more on HUD Community Planning and Development’s new site – Supporting Local Climate Action. Along with the flexible block grant funding that local governments already receive, this concerted effort will help cities focus climate action on the needs of the most vulnerable and further climate justice.
- Mapping a Path Forward:
We can’t manage what we can’t measure. HUD will undertake efforts to increase data availability related to building performance and energy usage, as well as data related to climate risk, both financial and physical, in HUD’s portfolio. HUD is also announcing a commitment to the creation of an Equitable Decarbonization Roadmap. The roadmap will help establish a path for HUD’s portfolio to meet the United States’ climate commitment of reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, in a way that does not unduly burden low- and moderate-income households.
- Strengthening Resilience:
HUD will continue to update CDBG-Disaster Recovery grant requirements to include a greater emphasis on climate mitigation, equity, and green building. Most recently, HUD published a Consolidated Notice for its 2020 and 2021 DR grantees. The Consolidated Notice seeks to advance equitable distribution of assistance, including planning for targeted assistance to residents of underserved communities, who have been historically marginalized and can be adversely affected by disasters that often exacerbate existing inequities.
HUD is also updating its floodplain requirements, in alignment with the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard. It is also focused on sustainable disaster recovery efforts in communities across the country, including Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, and earlier this year, HUD joined with the Departments of Energy, Health and Human Services, and the Government of Puerto Rico to commit to sustainable rebuilding of the electric grid. Jurisdictions will be supported in these updated requirements with technical assistance from the Department.
- Green Building and Electrification:
Too often, low-income households and communities of color are treated as an afterthought when it comes to advancing technology and green building. HUD will align building and substantial rehabilitation incentives and requirements, with energy efficiency and equitable decarbonization goals, including the requirement of new construction with new funds to achieve green building standards. HUD will also finalize rulemaking requiring strengthened minimum energy standards as required by statute. This will ensure that HUD-assisted households are not left behind as we shift to a low-carbon future.
- Good Green Jobs:
HUD will strengthen partnerships with the Department of Labor, Department of Energy, Americorps and unions to ensure robust Green Jobs programs in the communities HUD serves, and will devote additional resources related to green workforce development training. In addition, HUD has recently launched the Building Futures pilot at two Public Housing sites. This pilot is designed to identify pathways to meaningful long-term employment in green jobs and construction industries for Public Housing residents.
- Healthy Housing:
HUD will revise environmental review policies to ensure consideration of climate- and environmental justice-related hazards and health risks in all proposed site selection and placement of new assistance activities. HUD will also continue to collaborate with Local agencies and nongovernmental organizations to help the impacted community identify available resources and appropriate solutions to eliminate hazards and improve residents’ overall health.
HUD will play a critical role in implementing the Biden Administration’s climate agenda as it has significant influence over how the nation’s households and communities will respond to the climate crisis.
- HUD invests billions of dollars every year in housing, infrastructure, and services in neighborhoods across the US through its ever-increasing role in disaster relief and recovery.
- HUD’s FHA-insured portfolio consists of over 7 million single family insured loans and approximately 11,000 multifamily insured loans in addition to residential healthcare facilities and hospitals. In its Multifamily program, FHA offers a “green” mortgage insurance premium which encourages applicants for FHA-insured mortgages to upgrade and maintain a property’s energy performance in exchange for reduced FHA mortgage insurance premiums. HUD plays an essential role in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions due to its portfolio of approximately 4.5 million public and assisted housing units and its role in the development and preservation of affordable housing. According to an internal HUD analysis, yearly spending on utilities in public and assisted housing consumes as much as 14 percent of the agency’s total budget and produces an estimated 13.6 million metric tons of carbon emissions. HUD is committed to improving the efficiency of public and assisted housing to lower carbon emissions and allow more funds to be spent on the provision of housing instead of on utilities.