Congressman Jim Himes (D-CT) recently introduced legislation seeking to increase energy efficiency in multifamily housing communities nationwide, reduce utility costs for residents and owners, and slash carbon emissions.
The Multifamily Housing Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2014 modifies the Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) existing energy savings programs to more effectively target limited resources for multifamily low-income and affordable housing. The bill reauthorizes HUD’s Energy Innovation Fund for four additional years in order to provide funding for public and private partners to create unique solutions to promote energy savings.
“The cheapest, cleanest and most environmentally friendly energy is the energy we don’t use at all. This bill will significantly reduce carbon emissions that are harming our environment and help unleash billions of dollars in savings that are sitting untouched in our nation's apartments, condominiums and other multifamily homes,” Himes said.
Almost 20 million families live in apartments, condominiums, and multifamily housing communities. But historically, these properties have been largely overlooked when it comes to implementing energy efficiency programs.
Introducing energy saving measures into multifamily complexes and achieving energy savings of 15-30 percent has the potential to save up to $3.4 billion in annual utility costs. Studies have shown that by 2020 a reduction in energy consumption could lead to up to $9 billion in savings and could prevent 35 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions. These savings also have a direct budgetary impact, as HUD spends more than $5 billion annually on utility costs.
The Multifamily Housing Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2014 requires HUD, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), and the Department of Energy to conduct a study on the impact energy efficiency upgrades have on mortgage performance. This would provide important data to the marketplace to spur private investment and the adoption of energy savings measures in multifamily housing.
"I strongly support The Multifamily Housing Energy Efficiency Improvement Act because it represents a thoughtful approach to synthesizing energy conservation, environmental stewardship and public heath to yield economic savings," said Mark Robbins, Energy Committee Chair and Board Member of the Connecticut Green Building Council (CTGBC). "As a developer of affordable housing and an energy infrastructure consultant, I applaud the practical and proven measures contemplated in this bill."
Reps. Peter Welch (D-VT), John Delaney (D-MD) and Matt Cartwright (D-PA) are original cosponsors of Himes' bill.