Last week, Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan and Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced a major partnership between their departments that will use $16 billion in funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to help create green jobs and to make it easier for families to weatherize their homes.  The program is also designed to spur a new home energy efficiency industry that could create tens of thousands of jobs. The announcement was made at a meeting of the White House Task Force on Middle Class Families in Philadelphia.

“This partnership will help build an industry and save or create thousands of jobs,” said Secretary Donovan.  “In addition to saving and creating jobs, we have an opportunity to make our affordable housing stock, as well as all housing, energy efficient with the funds provided through the President’s Recovery Plan. ”

HUD’s programs include $4.5 billion to renovate and upgrade public and Native American housing (a good portion of which will be invested in energy improvements) as well as $250 million for energy retrofits of privately owned federally assisted housing.  DOE will invest $5 billion in weatherization funds; $3.2 billion for a new Energy and Environment Block Grant that cities and states can use to retrofit homes; $3.1 for the State Energy Program; and other programs.

The new interagency task force will:

* Provide guidance to public and assisted housing. HUD and DOE will work together to provide a common set of guidelines and specifications for retrofitting public housing, as well as privately owned, federally-subsidized rental properties.  These guidelines will assist the nation’s 3,300 housing authorities, housing 1.2 million families, on how to use about $4 billion in Recovery Act funds to “go green” through sound energy efficient building practices.

* Coordinate expenditure of economic recovery funds. HUD and DOE will sign an Interagency Agreement within 30 days on coordinating the use of weatherization assistance, energy efficiency and conservation block grant and other recovery funds in local communities.  These include, for example, exploring ways to increase the use of weatherization funds in public and assisted housing, and coordinating the use of CDBG and EECBG funds in local communities. The HUD/DOE collaboration will help catalyze a home performance/energy retrofit industry in the U.S.

* Develop common baseline for measuring energy efficiency measures. HUD and DOE will lead a government wide effort to develop a common baseline for measuring home energy use and the gains from efficiency improvements.  The goal of this effort is to provide the information base and metrics necessary to help support a national energy efficiency market for the housing sector. In order to assure that homeowners get the savings that they have invested in, HUD and DOE will work with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and industry experts to develop and disseminate a tool that will provide homeowners and consumers with an easy way to assess the relative energy efficiency of their homes, and the effectiveness of investments in energy efficiency.

* Develop new home energy financing products. Explore home energy disclosure and audit standards as well as new financing tools that will enable national scale investment in residential energy efficiency. These include greater use of revolving funds, expanded energy mortgage financing tools through the Federal Housing Administration, as well as exploring the use of DOE loan guarantee authority in the residential sector.

© 2009, Tracey de Morsella. All rights reserved. Do not republish.

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Author: Tracey de Morsella (323 Articles)

Tracey de Morsella started her career working as an editor for US Technology Magazine. She used that experience to launch Delaware Valley Network, a publication for professionals in the Greater Philadelphia area. Years later, she used the contacts and resources she acquired to work in executive search specializing in technical and diversity recruitment. She has conducted recruitment training seminars for Wachovia Bank, the Department of Interior and the US Postal Service. During this time, she also created a diversity portal called The Multicultural Advantage and published the Diversity Recruitment Advertising Toolkit, a directory of recruiting resources for human resources professionals. Her career and recruitment articles have appeared in numerous publications and web portals including Woman Engineer Magazine, Monster.com, About.com Job Search Channel, Workplace Diversity Magazine, Society for Human Resource Management web site, NSBE Engineering Magazine, HR.com, and Human Resource Consultants Association Newsletter. Her work with technology professionals drew her to pursuing training and work in web development, which led to a stint at Merrill Lynch as an Intranet Manager. In March, she decided to combine her technical and career management expertise with her passion for the environment, and with her husband, launched The Green Economy Post, a blog providing green career information and covering the impact of the environment, sustainable building, cleantech and renewable energy on the US economy. Her sustainability articles have appeared on Industrial Maintenance & Plant Operation, Chem.Info,FastCompany and CleanTechies.