Obama Administration Expands Better Buildings Challenge to Multifamily Housing

December 6th, 2013 by DWM Magazine

Building on $2 billion in financing commitments from the private sector for energy-efficiency updates to commercial buildings under the President’s Better Buildings Challenge, the U.S. Departments of Energy (DOE) and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has expanded the challenge to multifamily housing.

“Over the last two years, President Obama’s Better Buildings Challenge has helped drive greater energy efficiency further and faster, save families money and give U.S. businesses an edge in the global market,” says energy secretary Ernest Moniz. “By partnering with the multifamily housing industry as well as state and local governments, utilities and manufacturers, we can continue this progress— cutting carbon pollution, fostering economic growth and building a cleaner, more sustainable energy future.”

“The more than 50 multifamily owners from across the nation have committed to the Better Buildings Challenge. These housing leaders understand that it represents an opportunity for them to reduce their long-term energy costs, support innovative technologies, create good jobs, and help shape healthier communities and neighborhoods,” says HUD secretary Shaun Donovan. “The expansion of the Better Buildings Challenge to include multifamily housing represents an important step toward achieving the goals laid out in the President’s Climate Action Plan.”

“Upgrading the energy efficiency of America’s buildings is one of the easiest ways to save money, reduce pollution and create jobs,” adds Nancy Sutley, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.  “Federal agencies have met the President’s challenge to save energy and money in Federal buildings by committing to energy-efficiency upgrades at no up-front cost to taxpayers. Expanding this challenge will ensure that the Federal Government continues to do its part to save energy, grow our economy, and promote healthy communities.”

Through the Better Buildings Challenge, the DOE and HUD are partnering with both market rate and affordable housing owners as well as public housing agencies to cut energy waste and help families save on their utility bills. Through the challenge expansion, 50 multifamily partners—representing roughly 200,000 units and over 190 million square feet—have committed to cutting their energy use by 20 percent in 10 years.

In the United States, about a quarter of households live in multifamily housing such as apartments and condominiums. Improving the energy efficiency of these buildings by 20 percent will save nearly $7 billion in energy costs each year and cut greenhouse gas emissions by 430 million tons of carbon dioxide.

As part of the Better Buildings Challenge, the new multifamily housing partners will showcase innovative strategies to boost energy efficiency, including lighting improvements, heating and cooling system upgrades, installing rooftop solar systems and supporting new financing for energy retrofits and green construction. These partners will also share best practices and lessons learned with other challenge participants— serving as a model for the broader U.S. multifamily housing industry.

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