ACHRNEWS

Oct. 26, 2009: Federal Government Unveils ‘Recovery Through Retrofit' Report

October 26, 2009

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) joined the Office of the Vice President, the White House Council on Environmental Quality, White House Offices, and other federal departments and agencies to announce the “Recovery Through Retrofit” report, what is called a comprehensive roadmap to boost energy savings by retrofitting homes.

“This is the right thing for our environment and our economy - and the right time for action,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “Our Energy Star program can help families cut up to 30 percent off their energy bills - saving the average household more than $700 a year through efficiency investments. Capitalizing on efficiency opportunities in millions of American homes will bring good jobs to communities, help families save money when they need it most, and reduce air pollution while we grow our green economy.”

According to EPA, the Recovery Through Retrofit report builds on investments made in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to expand the home energy efficiency and retrofit market. EPA’s Energy Star program will play a central role in promoting energy efficiency to consumers in the implementation of the Recovery Through Retrofit recommendations. In particular, Home Performance with Energy Star will offer homeowners a whole-house, building science-based approach to improving the energy efficiency of their homes.

EPA said it will expand Home Performance with Energy Star to identify and work with communities that already take advantage of the financing and worker training made available through the initiative. These showcase communities will be used as models to help accelerate home retrofits and innovative financing to drive greater energy efficiency across the country.

EPA will also help develop a new energy performance label for homes and work to establish national workforce certifications and training standards.

Existing techniques and technologies in energy efficiency retrofitting can reduce energy use by up to 40 percent per home and lower total associated greenhouse gas emissions by up to 160 million metric tons annually, said the agency. Retrofitting existing homes also has the potential to cut home energy bills by $21 billion annually. Yet, despite the real energy cost savings and environmental benefits associated with improving home energy efficiency, a series of barriers has prevented a self-sustaining retrofit market from forming, EPA said. These barriers include a lack of access to information, financing, and skilled workers.

The recommendations in the Recovery Through Retrofit report have been designed to help overcome these barriers and to leverage recovery act funding to help ensure that the energy efficiency market will continue to thrive long after the recovery act money is spent.

Some of the recommendations in the report include:

• Provide American homeowners with straightforward and reliable home energy retrofit information: Consumers need consistent, accessible, and trusted information that provides a reliable benchmark of energy efficiency and sound estimates of the costs and benefits of home energy retrofits.

• Reduce high upfront costs, making energy retrofits more accessible: Access to retrofit financing should be more transparent, more accessible, repayable over a longer time period, and more consumer-friendly.

• Establish national workforce certifications and training standards: A uniform set of national standards to qualify energy efficiency and retrofit workers and industry training providers will establish the foundation of consumer confidence that work will be completed correctly and produce the expected energy savings and benefits. Such standards should incorporate healthy and environmentally friendly housing principles, as outlined in the report titled, the Surgeon General’s Call to Action To Promote Healthy Homes (2009). Proper certification and training standards will ensure that retrofitted homes are healthy homes. Consistent high-level national standards will spur the use of qualified training providers that offer career-track programs for people of all skill levels, promote and expand green job opportunities, and facilitate the mobilization of a national home retrofit workforce.

The full report and recommendations are available at www.whitehouse.gov/assets/documents/Recovery_Through_Retrofit_Final_Report.pdf.

Publication date: 10/26/2009