High-Performance Buildings
Overview

The High-Performance Buildings Team (HPBT) in OEE supports HUD’s program offices and provides assistance to HUD program offices, partners and grant recipients to advance high-performance building policies and practices in Public Housing and HUD-assisted and HUD-insured multifamily housing. This includes promoting best practices in lowering water and energy costs, improving disaster resilience, and ensuring investments in existing affordable multifamily housing improve both energy performance and resident health and comfort.

Multifamily Better Buildings Challenge

HPBT supports HUD’s partners through the Multifamily Better Buildings Challenge, a partnership with the Department of Energy that began in 2013 and includes almost 100 partner organizations with 712,000 housing units, including 553,000 units of public and assisted housing.

The Better Buildings Challenge is a voluntary leadership initiative that asks building owners and managers to make a public commitment to energy efficiency. Participating multifamily building owners and managers have committed to reducing energy consumption by at least 20 percent over 10 years. Better Buildings Challenge Multifamily Partners are leaders in market rate (unsubsidized) multifamily housing, Public Housing Authorities, Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) properties, and HUD-assisted multifamily properties.

Energy Codes and Standards

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) requires HUD and USDA to jointly adopt the most recently-published energy codes for new construction, subject to a Determination of that such code adoption will not negatively impact the affordability and availability of the covered housing. HUD is in the process of preparing an affordability and availability Determination for the latest codes: the 2021 IECC and ASHRAE 90.1-2019.

HUD-DOE Weatherization Partnership

The HUD-Department of Energy Weatherization Partnership resulted in a January 25, 2010 rule in partnership with HUD to streamline the use of Recovery Act weatherization funds in HUD-assisted buildings. Under the new rule at 10 CFR 440.22, Public Housing buildings and HUD-assisted multifamily buildings is identified by HUD and included on a list published by DOE meet DOE's weatherization program income requirements without the need for further evaluation or verification. They may also meet certain other program requirements.

December 2021 Update: In December 2021 DOE published new guidance providing for categorical income eligibility of HUD-assisted households for WAP funding. This will benefit low-income eligible households by removing the additional burden of applying for assistance and submitting the same documentation to multiple programs to receive comprehensive services.

Health@Home

The Health@Home High-Performance Housing Rehabilitation Guidelines were developed in order to enable affordable housing developers or owners to include Healthy Housing principles in their moderate rehabilitation or home repair programs. These housing rehabilitation guidelines focus on the health and well-being of residents by identifying rehab practices that minimize contaminants and injury-causing materials. They are organized around the eight widely accepted Principles of Healthy Homes plus a ninth principle, Healthy Living and Active Design:

  • Keep It Dry
  • Keep It Contaminant Free
  • Keep It Pest Free
  • Keep It Well Ventilated
  • Keep It Clean
  • Keep It Safe
  • Keep It Well Maintained
  • Keep It Thermally Controlled
  • Healthy Living and Active Design
Utility Data and Benchmarking

Utility benchmarking is imperative for building owners’ ability to track, analyze and ultimately reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Multifamily housing providers, particularly Public Housing Authorities and owners of HUD-assisted multifamily housing, face unique and idiosyncratic sets of barriers to effective benchmarking, including:

  • In properties with some types of subsidies, multiple split incentives leave little to no economic incentive for efficiency (tenant/owner, HUD/owner in HUD-assisted properties)
  • Difficulty collecting utility data from hundreds or thousands of individual tenant meters
  • Regulatory barriers to energy efficiency financing for owners of subsidized affordable housing
  • Difficulty training and retaining operations and maintenance workers
  • Lack of organizational capacity in affordable multifamily organizations that limits their ability to tackle all other challenges

In addition to providing technical assistance through the Multifamily Better Buildings Challenge, HPBT has developed a Multifamily Utility Benchmarking Toolkit with step-by-step guidance and resources to help organizations ramp up benchmarking across their portfolios.

In order to achieve significant reductions in greenhouse gas pollution, HUD must also be able to measure the performance of its portfolio, prioritize investments in energy and water conservation, and track savings over time. Under Goal 2 of HUD’s new Climate Action Plan, OEE will provide cross-agency coordination to ensure alignment between program office actions and the enterprise-wide data collection and analysis that are required to meet HUD’s greenhouse gas reduction goals.

Reports to Congress

HUD submits Reports to Congress pursuant to the requirements of the Energy Security and Independence Act of 2007. These reports provide updates on progress HUD is making towards its energy and green building goals, as well as when available updates on HUD's energy expenditures.

Building Futures Pilot

In addition to using less energy and carbon and providing a healthy and comfortable living environment, high-performance affordable housing should provide residents with opportunities to access Good Green Jobs. The goal of the Building Futures Pilot is to develop and test new models for improving employment outcomes for Public Housing residents, focused specifically on the Green Building sector. There is strong potential to position Section 3 as a green workforce development platform because a) green building will continue to be a growth industry with many opportunities for medium-wage career pathways that don’t require years of training, and b) the lion’s share of PHA spending covered by Section 3 goes toward construction and operations and maintenance activities that cultivate skills that have direct applications in Green Building and Green O&M.

Building Futures pilot site PHAs receive technical assistance (provided through Community Compass Technical Assistance funds) to help them assess their workforce development assets and gaps and their residents’ needs and better coordinate between their FSS and Section 3 activities and with the larger regional workforce ecosystem. The PHAs will then collaborate with these workforce partners (including technical colleges, workforce development boards, and employers) to design and implement a Building Futures pilot program, which will offer small cohorts of PHA residents training, case management/mentorship, and other supports that will help them translate Section 3 employment and training opportunities into careers in the Green Building sector.

Other Resources

 

 

Content current as of January 25, 2022