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HUD announces new climate policy on energy and water benchmarking, DOE decarbonization partnership

HUD is seeking to provide more clarity on energy consumption in multifamily properties while partnering with the DOE for building decarbonization

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on Wednesday made a series of new climate policy announcements at the 28th United Nations (U.N.) Climate Conference (COP28).

These include the launch of a free water and energy benchmarking service for HUD-assisted multifamily properties and a new partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to increase domestic efforts to reduce carbon emissions in the building sector and to cut costs for consumers through energy efficiency improvements.

Energy and water benchmarking service

The Energy and Water Benchmarking Service is available to all of HUD’s project-based multifamily rental assistance programs and will be free to all qualifying participants.

It will provide “multifamily property owners with data on energy and water consumption at their properties,” which can “aid property owners in identifying opportunities for energy efficiency improvements that can benefit residents and promote green investments in individual properties or entire property portfolios,” HUD explained.

Property owners will also be able to use the information to “assess rehabilitation efforts that may be eligible for grant or loan funding under HUD’s Green and Resilient Retrofit Program (GRRP) or other sources of funding,” the announcement said.

Special Presidential Envoy for Climate and former Secretary of State John Kerry delivered the benchmarking announcement at COP28.

“Along with the Green and Resilient Retrofit Program, the benchmarking service puts the historic Inflation Reduction Act funding to work in communities that are too often overlooked,” said Assistant Secretary for Housing, Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Commissioner Julia Gordon. “This program reinforces our ongoing commitment to efficient, safe, and healthy homes in all communities.”

DOE partnership for decarbonization

HUD has also entered into a new memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the DOE to develop a policy designed to reduce carbon emissions in the building sector, also announcing that it is joining the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy’s United States Global Change Research Program (USGCRP).

Its membership in USGCRP will allow HUD to assist with guiding and contributing to the U.S. government’s “scientific research on global climate change and ensure that state-of-the-art research and data on climate change benefits the people and communities that HUD serves,” the Department said.

At COP, the U.S. also joined the UNEP Buildings Breakthrough. Participating countries endorse the statement “Near-zero emission and resilient buildings are the new normal by 2030.”

“The new partnerships that we are announcing today underscore our strong and enduring commitment to energy efficiency and climate resiliency for our nation’s communities, homes, buildings, and infrastructure. It also underscores our commitment to sharing research on climate impacts faced by those most at risk,” said HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge.

DOE’s partnership with HUD will allow both agencies to create policy that will “fortify homes and communities across the country, ensuring they are prepared to respond to the challenges posed by the climate crisis through mitigation, adaptation and resilience,” Fudge added.

U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm also joined Fudge to offer perspective on the MOU.

“Today’s announcement reinforces the Biden-Harris Administration’s whole-of-government effort to lower costs for working families and ensure the benefits of the transition to a cleaner energy future are fully accessible, especially to those in low-income areas and underserved communities,” Granholm said.

She added that the new partnership “will allow DOE and HUD to leverage each other’s expertise to deliver on President Biden’s commitment to provide more affordable and healthier housing for Americans while also reducing deadly emissions that fuel the climate crisis.”

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