NAHB Urges Congress to Focus on Energy Retrofits

June 9, 2011

With the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing testimony on a suite of energy efficiency bills, including legislation covering residential construction, the National Association of Home Builders today urged lawmakers to take into account the differences in energy savings between the newest, highest-performing homes and older, less-efficient homes that comprise the vast majority of the nation's housing stock.

"With substantial amounts of energy lost in the nearly 130 million existing homes in the current stock, it is extremely important to develop an effective national energy policy that is not punitive to consumers who benefit from the most efficient new homes," Tony Crasi, a custom home builder from Akron, Ohio, told members of the Senate committee. "Rather, the policy must promote an effective retrofit plan for older, less-efficient housing that allows builders and remodelers to create the benefits of energy efficiency for all housing."

Testifying on behalf of NAHB on The Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2011 (S. 1000), legislation designed to increase the use of energy efficiency technologies in the residential, commercial and industrial sectors of the economy, Crasi highlighted progress made in residential green and energy-efficient construction over the past two decades. "The introduction of modern energy codes in the early 1990s has significantly improved the efficiency of new construction," he said. "In fact, the Energy Information Administration reports that homes built between 1991 and 2001 consumed 2.5 percent of total energy output in the U.S. By contrast, the 94.5 million older, existing homes consumed 18.4 percent of U.S. energy consumption, meaning the most inefficient housing is the most plentiful."

NAHB fully supports efforts to incentivize retrofitting the oldest, least-efficient housing and believes a national energy policy priority must include provisions that seek to save the energy lost in older homes and buildings, Crasi continued.  "NAHB has consistently championed incentives for consumers to upgrade older housing, including ongoing support for incentives under Sections 25C and 25D of the Internal Revenue Code that provide federal tax credits for energy efficiency home improvement efforts and renewable energy products," he said.

"Without meaningful incentives to retrofit the millions of less-efficient existing homes, true energy savings in the residential sector will never materialize," he asserted.

In addition, on the new construction side of the equation, access to credit is a major concern, coupled with foreclosure, appraisal and inventory issues, Crasi continued, noting that fewer new homes in today's market leaves fewer, more-efficient homes available for consumers. "NAHB is concerned with the changing dynamics of energy requirements for new housing because it has the potential to make the newest, highest-performing loans unaffordable for the average family," he concluded. "Rather, NAHB encourages a national policy that directs limited federal resources to the biggest source of energy loss in the real estate sector: older homes and buildings."