Text by Terrell McSweeny, Domestic Policy Adviser to Vice President Joe Biden
Vice President Biden and the Middle Class Task Force just finished unveiling the Recovery Through Retrofit Report
, at a public event inside the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. Joining the Vice President at the announcement were Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, Steven Chu, Secretary of Energy, Hilda Solis, Secretary of Labor, Shaun Donovan, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and Karen Mills, Administrator of the Small Business Administration.
Last May in Denver, CO
the Vice President asked the White House Council of Environmental Quality (CEQ) to report back to the Middle Class Task Force with a plan to make sure that the unprecedented Recovery Act investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy lay the groundwork for a self-sustaining home energy efficiency retrofit industry – which will create good, green jobs and save middle class families money on their energy bills. CEQ answered this call by bringing together eleven Departments and Agencies and six White House offices to develop today’s report.
The report identifies three barriers that have prevented a national market for home retrofits from taking off. First, consumers don’t have access to reliable information about retrofits. Second, the upfront costs of home retrofits can be high but consumers don’t have access to financing. Finally, there aren’t enough skilled workers to serve a robust national retrofit market.
Recovery Through Retrofit is an action plan to address these barriers without new money and by using authority the federal government already has.
Here’s how we will take steps toward breaking down each barrier:
First, to give consumers the information they need, the federal government will develop a standardized measure of home energy performance that is applicable to every home as well as a home performance label to signal that a home is energy efficient – like ENERGY STAR® does for appliances.
Second, we will make it easier for homeowners to pay for home retrofits by promoting accessible and affordable financing options.
Third, we will establish nationally recognized standards for worker training and certification so when you decide to invest in a home retrofit, you can rest assured that the work will be done right.
With almost 130 million homes in the United States, there’s plenty of work to be done. Building a nationwide home retrofit market will create good jobs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Right now, homes generate more than 20 percent of our carbon dioxide emissions.
Today’s announcement is just the beginning. The Agencies, Departments and White House offices involved with this report will continue their collaboration. An interagency Energy Retrofit Working Group will submit an implementation plan to the Vice President within thirty days. In the coming months, this group will keep track of the progress we are making on the report’s recommendations and report back to the Vice President on a regular basis.
As the Vice President said this afternoon, “when we recover—and we will recover—we will come out of this a much stronger nation, better prepared to lead the world in the 21st Century as we did in the 20th.”
We’ll come out a little greener, too.