Five federal agencies announce new actions that set a course for future climate resilience and water and energy efficiency savings, while saving taxpayer dollars. This article is reprinted from a WhiteHouse.gov, October 4, 2016, blog post:
Today, the Obama Administration is announcing a series of actions that reduce the carbon footprint and build climate resilience in the places we live and work. Each action builds on the Administration’s consistent push to tackle climate change in a way that leverages all of our tools as a Federal government: increasing the availability of data, setting higher standards, and leading by example.
First, we are expanding the availability of data for three sets of stakeholders: consumers, states, and owners and builders:
- For consumers, the Departments of Agriculture (USDA), Veterans Affairs (VA), and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) are now encouraging the use of WaterSense labeled fixtures, which have already saved more than 1.5 trillion gallons of water, $33 billion in water bills, and 78 metric tons of carbon pollution since the program began ten years ago. Through targeted consumer information for nearly 2 million homes per year, we can unlock savings for families, and put our water resources on a more sustainable path.
- For states, the Department of Energy (DOE) is releasing a new analysis this week that will help states understand the case for consistently adopting the most recent versions of the model building energy codes when they are published every three years. The analysis, conducted for DOE by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, shows that homeowners, building owners, and tenants could save over $100 billion on energy bills and reduce carbon emissions by over 800 million metric tons over the next quarter century if energy codes are strengthened.
- For owners and builders, HUD will begin collecting detailed data on the energy and water performance of 2.2 million multifamily homes assisted or insured by HUD, unlocking key energy and water efficiency data needed to benchmark property performance, save money on utility costs, and streamline and prioritize HUD program delivery. This portfolio includes 700 USDA properties that have HUD assistance, and USDA is exploring how similar benchmarking can further energy savings and affordability in rural America.
Second, we’re going where the data tells us and supporting the use of higher standards for the resiliency and efficiency of homes through HUD, USDA, and VA – three agencies whose programs collectively finance more than 20 percent of America’s single family home mortgages. Today, the three agencies have informed their lenders, borrowers, and stakeholders about the importance of using robust standards designed to strengthen homes and conserve energy and water. This new guidance emphasizes the importance of prioritizing resilience in the face of increasingly intense natural disasters. Further, increased adoption of stronger energy and water efficiency standards will cut homeowners’ utility bills while reducing negative environmental impacts. These stronger standards could impact almost 2 million households and a mortgage market of approximately $400 billion dollars per year. And just as importantly, in the coming weeks, HUD and USDA will announce a new opportunity to weigh in on the energy efficiency standards for the new homes supported by those agencies.
Finally, we continue to lead by example. Today, we are announcing an extension of our Federal performance contracting challenge – a “Next Generation Performance Contracting Challenge” that will save Americans billions of dollars in energy costs. Since the beginning of the Obama Administration, federal agencies have awarded over $3.5 billion in energy efficiency performance contracts and are on track to reach our $4 billion goal by the end of 2016. We’ve leveraged this innovative financial tool to unlock the collateral benefits that come with the performance contracts: investment infrastructure, energy efficiency jobs, and savings to the taxpayer.
Now, we’re building on that success and expanding the challenge to water efficiency as well. The Administration’s new goal is to seek $2 billion in additional energy performance contracts over the next 3 years, and to achieve 2 billion gallons of water savings. We believe this new commitment will support thousands of jobs and reduce the equivalent of approximately 300,000 cars’ worth of carbon emissions.
Today’s announcements are just another example of how the Administration continues to lead on climate action. The President’s leadership is showing results: The carbon footprint of the U.S. economy is down even though the economy continues to grow; renewable energy costs are down and clean energy deployment is up; and the global commitment to climate action is stronger than ever with the Paris climate agreement likely to enter into force this year.
Christine Harada is the Federal Chief Sustainability Officer at the Council on Environmental Quality.
Ali Zaidi is the Associate Director for Natural Resources, Energy, and Science at the Office of Management and Budget.