Energy Efficiency and Green Building
When HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan announced the launch of the Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities in February, 2010, he committed the agency to supporting the construction and rehabilitation of green affordable housing, recognizing that affordable homes should be located close to transportation, jobs, and schools and designed to maximize health and environmental benefits.
The Sustainable Housing Initiative, within the Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities, helps to coordinate intra- and inter-agency energy-efficiency and green building goals and initiatives for the Department. This office works with HUD program offices including Community Planning and Development, Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control, Housing, Policy Development and Research, Public Affairs, and Public and Indian Housing. In this capacity, the Office assists in implementing HUD's energy-related annual performance goal including data tracking and presentation. These data are a component of HUDStat, the Secretary's quarterly initiative to drive improved performance on HUD priority goals.
Through a wide range of programs, HUD has facilitated the retrofit or construction of energy efficient healthy homes for hundreds of thousands of America's families. New and ongoing energy retrofit financing programs-for both single family homes and multi-family and public rental housing- will help thousands more. Moving forward, the Department will continue to make significant inroads in increasing the water and energy efficiency of HUD-assisted properties, greening this housing stock, and endeavors to sustain the progress achieved through significant and unprecedented HUD investments of Recovery Act funds in energy efficient, green building over the past two years.
HUD's Annual Performance Goal for Energy Efficiency and Green Building
The Office serves as program lead for HUD's Strategic Goal 4, "Build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination," as outlined in the HUD Strategic Plan FY2010-2015. The plan is composed of 5 strategic goals and 22 key outcome measures, referred to as Measures of Success.
Strategic Goal 4 is based on the premise that the nation's current housing, economic, health, and energy crises demand that the federal government and its local partners effectively coordinate policies related to community development, the environment, energy efficiency, transportation, housing, and disaster preparedness. Measure 13 focuses in on cost effective energy retrofits and energy efficient new construction as part of a joint initiative with the Department of Energy. Secretary Donovan leads quarterly reviews, known as HUDStat, to drive performance improvement on strategic goals, such as that described above. Data is used to understand problems to be solved, and a collaborative environment enables sharing of wisdom and experience to do so.
Aligning Energy Standards and Requirements
This office participates in efforts to standardize energy efficiency requirements both across HUD programs and across federal agencies. Much of HUD's portfolio of public and assisted housing was built before the advent of energy codes, and the adoption of building codes varies by state and jurisdiction. HUD programs have also adopted different energy standards. Through cooperation between HUD program offices, those standards are starting to come into alignment, so that clear guidance can be provided to HUD stakeholders on energy efficiency.
This office also participates in an ongoing effort to better align the operation of rental policy across the federal government, including rental policy related to energy efficiency standards, known as the Rental Policy Working Group. Composed of representatives from the White House Domestic Policy Council, the National Economic Council, the Office of Management and Budget, HUD, the Department of Agriculture, and the Treasury Department, this group seeks to find means of simplifying and improving the myriad regulations concerning rental policy for federally-assisted affordable housing.
Expanding the Availability of Financing for Home Energy Improvements
With a growing interest in financing energy improvements through Federal Housing Administration programs, as evidenced by growth in energy efficiency mortgages and loans insured by the FHA, HUD continues to expand the availability of financing for energy efficiency improvements. Products such as the Energy Efficient Mortgage, the 203(k) program, and the PowerSaver program allow borrowers to make energy efficiency improvements more easily.
Innovative Financing for Multifamily Housing
In addition to the Fannie Mae-FHA Green Refinance Plus program and the Mark-to-Market program, HUD is sponsoring innovation in energy efficiency improvement financing in multifamily housing through the Energy Innovation Fund. Grantees under this program are piloting solutions to the challenges of energy efficiency and renewable energy investment in existing affordable multifamily properties, leveraging private capital and additional public funding to do so, and conducting applied research to document and share scalable approaches to retrofitting these properties.
Specific energy efficiency activities undertaken by HUD include:
- Targeting Energy Performance Contracts and other incentives to reach smaller public housing authorities.
- Aligning energy standards and requirements across HUD programs and federal agencies.
- Implementing and expanding technical assistance and training for HUD grantees and partners.
- Awarding bonus points in the application process for some HUD discretionary programs, such as Choice Neighborhoods, to projects including energy efficiency and sustainable community development in their plans.
- Expanding the availability of financing for home energy improvements through FHA's Title I PowerSaver pilot program.
- Innovative financing initiatives for multifamily housing through the FHA-Fannie Mae Green Refinance Plus risk sharing program and competitive grant awards for innovative strategies for improving multifamily energy efficiency.
- Increasing HUD's ability to collect and analyze energy retrofit data in the Capital Fund Program through an expansion of the Recovery Act Management and Performance System.