U.S. Reps. Judy Biggert (IL-13) and Ed Perlmutter (CO-07) celebrated Earth Day today by securing committee approval of their bill to bring energy efficient designs and technologies into American homes, offices, and buildings. The Green Resources for Energy Efficient Neighborhoods (GREEN) Act, H.R. 2336, was approved by the House Financial Services Committee today by voice vote and has now been referred to the full House of Representatives for consideration.
"The GREEN Act will forge a new path for achieving energy and cost savings in our nation's buildings, homes, and offices," said Biggert, co-chair of the Congressional High-Performance Building Caucus. "It utilizes creative financing mechanisms, demonstrations, and incentives to promote the use of the latest in sustainable building designs and technologies. At the same time, it places a premium on energy efficient construction and upgrades that will revitalize investment in the green jobs of tomorrow. Speeding these technologies out of the lab and into our nation's building supply will pay dividends for years to come for homeowners, the economy, and for the environment."
The GREEN Act creates financing mechanisms through Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) programs to promote investments in green buildings, raise energy efficiency goals, and provide incentives for the installation of energy efficient technologies and designs.
"In order to save green, we must go green. The GREEN Act will save our country money, help revitalize our economy by making energy efficiency practices more affordable, accessible and achievable by consumers, businesses and government entities," said Perlmutter. "By prioritizing energy efficiency practices, we can ease the woes of homeowners, lenders, financial markets, builders and our environment. This bill is good for energy efficiency, good for jobs and good for the economy.
The American Institute of Architects published a report on the potential job creation from this bill and found that the GREEN Act could create or save as many as 140,000 jobs in the building design and construction industry every year (http://www.aia.org/advocacy/federal/AIAB082795).
In 2008 and 2009, the bipartisan GREEN Act passed the full House of Representatives part of broader legislation, but has never been taken up by the Senate.
Today, Perlmutter and Biggert made some technical and consensus changes to the bipartisan bill, aiming to speed it course to the White House.
Perlmutter and Biggert's bill has broad support from consumers, realtors, environmental and business groups, financial institutions, home builders and developers.
Key Provisions in the Bill Include:
* Provides incentives for new and existing structures financed by HUD to meet or exceed the minimum energy efficiency standards established in the bill.
* Directs HUD to establish a four-year, 50,000-unit demonstration program to highlight the cost effectiveness of funding a portion of the costs of meeting the enhanced HUD energy efficiency standards. In addition, the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) is encouraged to insure at least 50,000 energy efficient mortgages by December 31, 2012. As FHA begins seeking these types of mortgages, a market will emerge among homebuilders, home owners and lenders seeking to acquire federal insurance on mortgage products.
* Provides resources to non-profit and for-profit community organizations to extend the availability of energy efficient products for existing homes.
* Establishes a residential energy efficiency block grant program, according to established formulas under the community development block grant program, to distribute grants for the sole purpose of improving the energy-efficiency of single-family or multi-family housing, with preference given to projects that meet the efficiency standards highlighted in section 5(b) of the reported bill.
* Partnerships are created with the Secretary and planting organizations to promote energy efficient location selection for buildings and utilize landscape architecture, including strategically planted trees, shrubs and grass, aimed at improving energy efficiency and sustainability.
* Requires HUD to insure certain loans made by qualified energy lenders to finance the acquisition of renewable energy systems for use at residential properties. This provision will improve the accessibility of leased renewable energy systems for home dwellers.