Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts towards sustainable housing for low-income residents lead to a transformative initiative aimed at slashing the cost of decarbonizing housing by 50% within the next decade. Aimed to turn 1,500 low-income family homes into zero-energy, climate-resilient dwellings, it is funded by a $100 million allocation from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) through the Inflation Reduction Act. Furthermore, the Department of the Treasury and the Department of Energy have recently launched the Low-Income Communities Bonus Credit program to promote investments in clean energy within underprivileged communities.
The Biden-Harris Administration has recently established an ambitious goal of cutting the cost of decarbonizing both new and existing housing by 50% over the next ten years. This initiative aims not only to provide financial relief to Americans through savings on energy bills, but also to address the pressing issue of greenhouse gas emissions stemming from the operation, construction, and renovation of buildings.
Today, the Administration announced the allocation of over $100 million from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) through the Inflation Reduction Act. This significant investment marks the largest ever made in clean energy and climate action. Its purpose is to assist in the transformation of over 1,500 homes belonging to low-income families into zero-energy, climate-resilient dwellings.
Energy-saving renovations will show how good and affordable housing can be kept in the communities by reducing energy waste, making homes more resilient to extreme weather caused by climate change, and lowering costs for families. These renovations will focus on lowering energy and housing costs for low-income families, in line with President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative and the Biden-Harris Administration’s dedication to environmental justice.
In addition to promoting the long-term sustainability and affordability of the country’s current supply of affordable housing, these investments also aim to enhance fair housing by expanding housing choices for communities.
From the very beginning, the Biden-Harris Administration has been actively promoting the most ambitious climate agenda ever seen. They have adopted a comprehensive approach that involves the entire government and aims to drastically reduce emissions in every sector of the economy, including buildings, while ensuring that every American has access to affordable and clean energy.
In the United States, the buildings sector is also majorly responsible for greenhouse gas emissions, including 20 percent from the heating, cooling, and operation of homes. By investing in effective solutions that reduce pollution from homes, the nation will not only combat 37% of greenhouse gas emissions related to building operations, construction, and renovation but also promote better health for individuals and reduce energy and housing expenses for hard-working families. This is a crucial aspect of Bidenomics, contributing to a more sustainable and prosperous future.
Combined Initiatives by Department of Treasury and Energy
The Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts towards sustainable housing for low-income residents, but other departments are also putting in their efforts to support the initiative.
The Department of the Treasury and the Department of Energy have announced the opening of applications for the Low-Income Communities Bonus Credit Program. This program aims to encourage clean energy investments in underserved communities, with the potential for up to 1.8 gigawatts of clean energy annually.
Created by the Inflation Reduction Act, the program offers an additional bonus credit on top of the Investment Tax Credit for clean energy projects. This bonus can reach up to 30% of qualifying investments. Moreover, the Low-Income Communities Bonus grants a further tax credit boost of 10 or 20 percentage points for small solar and wind projects implemented in low-income or tribal communities.
Program and Initiatives by Different Departments
The Administration’s announcements today further enhance its commitment to strengthen climate resilience in buildings and provide families nationwide with reduced home energy costs. But there were several other steps taken by different departments in their journey towards Net-Zero Emissions.
1. Affordable Home Energy Shot
The Department of Energy has introduced its eighth Energy Earthshot called the Affordable Home Energy Shot. The goal is to cut down the cost of decarbonizing both new and existing housing by 50%. This initiative aims to save Americans money on their energy bills while also addressing the challenges faced by low-income households and communities of color.
The initiative will support the Biden-Harris Administration’s environmental justice goals by making energy-efficient retrofits more affordable and reducing energy costs and carbon emissions in homes nationwide.
Lowering construction expenses will also help the Administration’s initiative to enhance the country’s stock of affordable housing. This will be achieved through the President’s Housing Supply Action Plan, which aims to expand the construction of budget-friendly housing and secure the sustainability of existing units.
2. Standard national definition for zero emissions buildings
The Biden-Harris Administration wants all new buildings and renovations to have zero emissions and be resilient by 2030. They are working on creating a national definition for zero emissions buildings to make sure there is a uniform and measurable approach to achieving this goal.
By 2030, 10 million new homes will be built. Setting a clear target will encourage investments in energy-efficient homes and buildings, helping to address climate change.
3. The 45L new energy efficient homes tax credit
Recently, the Department of the Treasury released guidance concerning the amendments made to the 45L new energy efficient homes tax credit by the Inflation Reduction Act. As a result of these amendments, eligible contractors who engage in the construction, reconstruction, or rehabilitation of energy efficient homes can now receive a generous $5,000 per home.
4. Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) Program
The Department of Energy recently made the announcement regarding the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) Program. A staggering $30 million funds will be distributed to eight states, 19 local governments, and one Tribe, providing them with much-needed clean energy funding.
The objective of the EECBG Program is to help these entities implement effective strategies to reduce energy consumption, lower fossil fuel emissions, and enhance overall energy efficiency.
Additionally, the department granted over $22 million in cash and technical assistance through the Buildings Upgrade Prize (Buildings UP). This initiative supports teams across the nation that have come up with innovative ideas to accelerate widespread energy efficiency and building electrification upgrades for homes and communities.
5. Applications for $400 million
Furthermore, the Department of Energy recently launched a call for applications, inviting states and territories to access a generous $400 million fund as part of the Inflation Reduction Act.
The purpose of this funding is to support the adoption and implementation of cutting-edge building energy codes or zero building energy codes. By embracing these advancements, they can significantly reduce utility expenses, enhance efficiency, combat the detrimental effects of greenhouse gas emissions on our climate, and fortify buildings to withstand the challenges posed by climate disasters.
5. $1.8 billion for two resilience grant programs by FEMA
Last week, FEMA made an exciting announcement about the availability of $1.8 billion for two incredible grant programs. These programs are designed to enhance climate resilience and empower communities to prepare for severe weather events.
The annual Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) grant program is offering an impressive $1 billion to fund projects that safeguard both individuals and infrastructure from the devastating impact of natural disasters and climate change. In addition to this, the FMA program will provide an extraordinary $800 million to support projects that effectively reduce the risk of floods for homes and communities throughout the entire nation.
6. HUD’s Funding Navigator
The Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Funding Navigator is an easy-to-use and comprehensive search engine that provides access to a vast array of incentives and resources from various federal agencies, like Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) and Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). These resources are aimed at enhancing climate resiliency, energy efficiency, environmental justice, healthy housing, renewable energy integration, and workforce development.
7. Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund
EPA recently closed applications for the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund. They prioritized net-zero emissions buildings, including multifamily housing, for the $14 billion National Clean Investment Fund and the $6 billion Clean Communities Investment Accelerator.
Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts towards sustainable housing for low-income residents paired with these actions will result in increased investments in housing supply and the creation of safer and healthier homes.