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Shaheen, Portman Lead Bipartisan Letter to Biden Administration Urging Updated Energy Efficiency Standards for Federally Supported Homes

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) sent a letter with U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to urge swift action on updating energy efficiency standards for federally backed homes. Currently, federally backed homes are only required to meet energy conservation standards set in 2009; that’s why the Senators are asking the Office of Management and Budget to move to the most up-to-date building energy codes to save families money and reduce carbon emissions.

“We write to thank the Department of Housing and Urban Development and U.S. Department of Agriculture for taking a critical step to save families money on energy costs and reducing carbon emissions by advancing a determination on updating energy efficiency standards for a wide range of federally backed homes,” wrote the Senators. “We also urge the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to take swift action on this important determination, which is a critical step towards reducing energy cost burdens for low- and moderate-income households in federally supported housing while also creating jobs and cutting emissions.”

They continued: “Homes built to these outdated standards will be in use for decades, generating excess greenhouse gas emissions and burdening low- and moderate-income households with unnecessarily high energy costs from wasted energy...Updating the standards would ensure that new homes are built with measures that lower energy bills and make homes more comfortable, such as insulation, lighting, and heating and cooling equipment.”

Read the full letter here.

This effort is supported by the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association, the U.S. Green Building Council and the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

“With the Federal government investing billions of dollars to undertaking energy retrofits of existing buildings through the Inflation Reduction Act, we need to update our federal programs so that new homes are also built to current energy efficiency standards,” said Curt Rich, President, North American Insulation Manufacturers Association. “Energy efficient homes benefit homeowners through lower utility bills, electric utilities through reduced peak energy demand and the planet through lower greenhouse emissions.”

“Housing accounts for 20% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. It makes no sense for the federal government to continue supporting the construction of unsustainable, inefficient housing that not only drives up those emissions but also significantly increases energy costs for the life of the home, particularly in the affordable housing sector where energy bills are often an enormous burden on households trying to make ends meet,” said Elizabeth Beardsley, Senior Policy Counsel, U.S. Green Building Council. “This determination is a huge opportunity for HUD and USDA to deliver quality, efficient housing and improved quality of life to households while also making progress toward the goals of the administration’s climate plans. It’s time to get this done, and we thank Senators Shaheen and Portman for their leadership on this issue like so many other energy efficiency issues.”

“The government is still supporting loans for new homes built with old, outdated technology, and that leaves the residents with high energy bills,” said Steven Nadel, Executive Director, American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. “Congress directed the agencies to update the efficiency rules for these homes, but it’s taking far too long. As heating costs jump in much of the country, the administration should ensure homes are built to code to reduce families’ costs for years ahead.”

Senator Shaheen is a leading policymaker on energy efficiency priorities. From her landmark bipartisan legislation to address energy efficiency building codes with Senator Portman, to her leadership as a negotiator of the bipartisan infrastructure law and her consistent advocacy to include robust funding for important federal programs in annual government funding legislation, Senator Shaheen has secured significant investments in the energy efficiency sector over the years. As a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Shaheen has consistently secured federal funding for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to assist low-income households and seniors on fixed incomes pay their energy bills and stay safe during the winter. Earlier this year, Shaheen joined a bipartisan coalition of senators in a push urging for the swift release of LIHEAP funds. Shaheen also champions the Weatherization Assistance Program and other energy efficiency measures to help Granite Staters keep their energy usage down and lower their monthly bills. Recently, she helped introduce bipartisan legislation to help families afford cost-reducing, sustainable residential home heating technologies.