NAHB, NAR and USGBC Express Support for GREEN Act

June 24, 2009

The Green Resources for Energy Efficient Neighborhoods (GREEN) Act, now before the House Financial Services Committee, is getting support from the National Association of Home Builders, the National Association of Realtors and the U.S. Green Building Council. Representatives of all three organizations recently testified on behalf of H.R. 2336, which would establish incentives to encourage energy efficient building, rehabilitation and upgrades.

The GREEN Act provides incentives to lenders and financial institutions to provide lower interest loans and other benefits to consumers who build, buy or remodel their homes in ways that improve energy efficiency. The bill also increases energy efficiency standards for Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) owned and assisted housing, USGBC officials note.

Doug Gatlin, USGBC VP of market development for USGBC told the House committee that the bill  “sends a powerful message to the rest of the housing industry, incentivizes private businesses to become experts in green building generally, and ensures that low income families will maintain access to decent, safe and affordable housing, even as our society’s standards for what is decent and safe continue to rise.”

Jerry Howard, NAHB president, also praised the bill in testimony before the committee, but also warned that H.R. 2454, the other major piece of climate change legislation now before Congress, includes requirements that conflict with H.R. 2336, and has the poential to make the GREEN Act obsolete before it’s even signed.

“I am hopeful that this subcommittee will be able to restore the balance necessary to truly incentivize green building and preserve affordability as the debate over climate change continues,” Howard said. “It would be terribly disappointing to see the good faith effort and collaborative work on the GREEN Act displaced with unworkable federal mandates as envisioned in H.R. 2454.”

“Realtors build communities, and environmental issues related to housing and development affect our global community,” said David Wluka, a realtor and member of NAR’s global climate change presidential advisory group who spoke on behalf of the association. “NAR is committed to efforts that advance consumer understanding of the need for energy efficiency and to reduce energy use. Toward that end, we support the proposed GREEN Act’s goals of encouraging energy efficiency and conservation in our nation’s housing stock.”

Although both NAHB and NAR support the H.R. 2454, both have also proposed some modifications.
“The scope of the GREEN Act and the new programs that it creates is ambitious, but the intent is thoughtful and NAHB hopes that the resources will ultimately be available to develop the programs into effective tools to promote sustainable principles,” Howard told the House committee.

The GREEN Act was re-introduced in the House in May. The bill actually passed the full House
as part of H.R. 6899, the Comprehensive Energy Security and Consumer Protection Act in September 2009, but the Senate did not take action on the legislation.