Energy Efficiency Gains Support but Issues of Affordability Still RemainOctober 22nd, 2019 by Kyra Thompson
The trend toward energy efficiency continues to sweep the country as represented by the growth over the past year of energy-efficient (EE) jobs by 3.4%, almost half of America’s entire job growth rate, according to a report by E2.
And the construction industry is the sector leading the pack. “Green builders” account for more than half the EE jobs in the country at 1,285,783 with an expected growth of 8.8% in 2019 the report shows. Manufacturing is not far behind, in third place with a projected growth of 5.8% this year.
As demand shifts the climate of the construction industry toward sustainability, organizations and lawmakers have been seeking a way to get everyone on board. Several building organizations showed their support of efforts by testifying in a hearing in September for the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy to discuss legislative measures that could promote “green building” practices.
As represented at the hearing, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) brought up a prominent factor deterring the industry from EE building—affordability.
NAHB has been fighting federal mandates for further stringent codes also testifying before the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis on October 17 with the same message: maintaining housing affordability must be the cornerstone to any efforts to create cleaner and stronger homes.
“Any efforts to improve or increase the efficiency or resiliency of the U.S. housing stock should focus on cost-effective, market-driven solutions,” said Jim Rutland, a home builder and developer from Montgomery, Ala., who represented NAHB.
NAHB’s push for incentives was backed by two pieces of bipartisan legislation proposed on Energy Efficiency Day that sought an increase and reinstating of incentives for homeowners and builders that achieved code standards.
But NAHB also emphasized the importance of focusing effort toward existing home renovations instead of simply enforcing stricter codes on new home projects.
“Since these homes also represent the biggest energy users and are the least resilient, programs and policies that focus on the existing housing stock would reap the most benefits,” said Rutland.
Solutions to keeping up with EE building demands while maintaining affordability continue to circulate industry discussion.