Washington, D.C. – In an effort to make more homes energy efficient and help residents save on their utility bills, U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jack Reed (D-RI) introduced bipartisan legislation to boost energy efficiency in thousands of multi-family residential homes nationwide. The Green Retrofits Act of 2021 would bolster public-private partnerships to make healthy home upgrades and create a new program to distribute energy efficiency grants and loans.
“Energy efficiency measures not only have an important role in reducing carbon emissions, but can also save families hundreds of dollars each year by substantially lowering their utility bills,” said Senator Collins, the Ranking Member of the Housing Appropriations Subcommittee. “By upgrading affordable housing units with efficient energy, heating, and water systems and making weatherization improvements, our bipartisan bill would reduce costs for working families and taxpayers while helping to combat climate change.”
“High energy costs can be a real burden on household budgets. Modest investments in energy efficiency can yield major energy savings in older housing stock for taxpayers and residents alike. The Green Retrofits Act would help make energy efficient upgrades to generate real, long-term savings for tens of thousands of affordable housing residents. It would save taxpayers and residents money and help build healthy, sustainable communities,” said Senator Reed, a senior member of the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee. “Climate change is a serious challenge and this is a win-win proposal that would help take cost-effective climate action while reducing financial hardship for thousands of families.”
“Our ability to withstand future global threats—whether future pandemics or climate-related events such as wildfires, extreme cold or heat, hurricanes, and more—urgently depends on our commitment to creating a ‘new normal’ that protects all Americans, and the planet we call home, before, during, and after a crisis hits,” said Amanda Reddy, Executive Director of the National Center for Healthy Housing. “Given the central importance that housing plays in our well-being, that commitment must include housing that is affordable, resilient, more energy-efficient, safe, and healthy. The good news is that we know how to make that happen, and the Green Retrofits Act will help us make important progress toward that goal.”
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and HUD-assisted multi-family property owners spend billions annually on utilities. The Green Retrofits Act would help HUD enter into budget-neutral, performance-based contracts to upgrade green retrofits and lower energy and water costs for HUD-assisted housing. These public-private partnerships could provide resources to up to 35,000 residential housing units across the country that are home to vulnerable residents most at risk of extreme temperature events and least able to afford the costs of retrofits or resiliency improvements and would benefit most from lower energy bills.
The bill would also direct the Secretary of HUD to create a program to distribute federal energy efficiency grants and loans to help multi-family homes “go green” in making cost-efficient and energy efficient upgrades. The goal of the program is to make smart investments in property improvements while reducing energy demand, water consumption, and greenhouse gas emissions. These improvements will lower operating costs, improve health, and reduce pollution while providing residents and landlords with enhanced financial stability.
On a national level, the residential housing sector accounts for about 22 percent of U.S. energy consumption. According to the U.S. Energy Information Association, more than half of energy consumption in U.S. households is for two basic needs: heating and cooling. Improving the efficiency of building components such as heating, cooling, and lighting systems will help households lower their energy bills, reduce health and safety risks, and improve the quality of life for residents.
The legislation is supported by the National Center for Healthy Housing.