Green Resources for Energy Efficient Neighborhoods (GREEN) Act for Affordable Mortgages

Washington, DC (June 26, 2009)- U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter’s (D-CO) G.R.E.E.N. Act (Green Resources for Energy Efficient Neighborhoods), which includes a key financing provision by Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT), passed the House of Representatives as Section 295 of H.R. 2454. The reintroduced G.R.E.E.N. Act gives real savings, real investment by promoting energy efficiency in homes. In addition, H.R. 2336 continues to advance as a stand-alone bill in the House.

Bill Status:

As we’ve seen economic growth in the U.S. slow down, consumers are being hit hard by the twin burdens of a sagging housing market and rising energy prices. It’s time to invest wisely in protecting family budgets and revitalizing our built environment.
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 and businesses to improve their energy efficiency and use of alternative energy. This timely legislation reflects foresight and the considered input of a broad coalition of housing advocates, home builders, financial institutions, government leaders, developers, and the environmental community.
“This legislation proves that it is easy to be green. This bill helps revitalize our economy by making energy efficiency practices more affordable, accessible and achievable by consumers, businesses and government entities. By prioritizing energy efficiency practices, we can ease the woes of homeowners, lenders, financial markets, builders, and our environment,” said Congressman Ed Perlmutter.
Perlmutter’s GREEN Act passed the full House of Representatives as part of HR 6899, the Comprehensive Energy Security and Consumer Protection Act in September 2008, however the Senate did not take action on this legislation. This year, the reintroduced GREEN Act, (H.R. 2336) is assigned to the House Financial Services Committee, to which Perlmutter belongs, and a hearing on the bill is likely to take place later this summer.
“Smart investment up front can save families thousands every year and help reduce our entire country’s dependence on fossil fuels,” said Congressman Jim Himes. “This bill will make environmentally-friendly building more accessible and save us all money in the long run.”
“We applaud Rep. Perlmutter for his leadership in helping to make green technologies and energy efficient homes more affordable,” said David Kaiserman, President of Lennar Ventures. “In particular, Rep. Perlmutter’s bill would help spur investment in renewable energy systems and increase the number of homes powered by renewable energy.”
“The GREEN Act will help ensure that America’s homes are part of the clean energy revolution. This legislation will provide architects, engineers, contractors and financers the tools to help millions of homeowners and renters make improvements that will lower energy bills and foster energy independence,” said American Institute of Architects President, Marvin J. Malecha, FAIA. “It will also create jobs for the men and women who design, build and retrofit homes. Rep. Perlmutter’s bill could not come at a more critical moment, and we urge Congress to advance it as soon as possible.”
“Access to affordable, safe and healthy housing should be available to everyone,” said Rick Fedrizzi, President, CEO and Founding Chair, U.S. Green Building Council. “The GREEN Act leverages the tremendous power of green building by providing incentives to promote the interconnected goals of affordability and sustainability. From location near public transit and employment to the integration of energy efficiency best practices, green building can improve the health and economic well being of our nation’s families and communities.”
“Thanks to Rep. Perlmutter’s leadership, the GREEN Act demonstrates a steadfast commitment to residential energy efficiency from the federal government,” said Doris W. Koo, president and CEO, Enterprise Community Partners. “This legislation also thoughtfully builds on lessons learned through the Enterprise Green Communities initiative, which seeks to bring the benefits of sustainable development to low-income people and communities.”
“As Americans face extraordinary energy costs, the GREEN Act incorporates landscape architecture practices like site planning, targeted tree plantings and other green infrastructure techniques that will not only lower monthly utility bills, but lay the groundwork for more healthy, sustainable communities around the country,” said Nancy Somerville, Executive Vice President and CEO of the American Society of Landscape Architects. “Congressman Perlmutter’s forward-thinking legislation will make affordable and sustainable housing accessible to everyone.”
Key Provisions in This Bill Include:
* Incentives for housing developers to partner with tree-planting organizations to certify that trees, shrubs, grasses, and other plants are planted in the proper manner and provided adequate maintenance.
* Siting of housing and improvements in a manner that provides for energy efficiency and conservation.
* Not less than 50 percent of the total area of paved surfaces at the site of such housing will be shaded, consist of greenspace, be covered by solar energy panels or greenroofs, or be part of a geo-thermal piping system.
* File how any construction, rehabilitation, or other development will affect and minimize the effects of construction, rehabilitation, or other development on the condition of existing trees.
* Selection and installation of trees, shrubs, grasses, and other plants based upon applicable design guidelines and standards of the International Society for Arboriculture.
* Establish a goal for minimum greenspace or tree canopy cover for housing sites for which such financial assistance is provided, including guidelines and timetables within which to achieve compliance with such minimum requirements.
* For the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to consult with national organizations dedicated to providing housing assistance and related services to low-income families, the Alliance for Community Trees and its affiliates, the American Nursery and Landscape Association, the American Society of Landscape Architects, and the National Arbor Day Foundation, and take such actions as are appropriate to establish, and encourage the establishment, of such agreements and working partnerships between such organization and its affiliates and recipients of assistance from the Department of Housing and Urban Development for the development, maintenance, operation, or costs of housing.
Other Key Provisions in the Bill Include:
* Provides incentives for new and existing structures financed by HUD to meet or exceed the minimum energy efficiency standards established in the bill.
* Directs HUD to establish a four-year, 50,000 unit demonstration program to highlight the cost effectiveness of funding a portion of the costs of meeting the enhanced HUD energy efficiency standards. Project owners will be able to keep a portion of the savings acquired from making such renovations and improvements if they participate in the demonstration program. In addition, the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) is encouraged to insure at least 50,000 energy efficient and location efficient mortgages by December 31, 2012. When FHA begins seeking these types of mortgages a market will emerge from homebuilders, home owners and lenders seeking to acquire federal insurance on mortgage products.
* Provides that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will have a duty to serve very low, low and moderate income communities while developing underwriting standards to facilitate a secondary market for energy-efficient and location efficient mortgages. Notably, it allows the Director of the new GSE regulator to suspend the duty to serve requirement for exigent circumstances.
* Provides resources to the non-profit and for profit community to make acquiring energy efficient types of products for existing homes more available. An energy efficient mortgages education and outreach campaign is created to setup a commission to study, report to Congress and eventual act on their findings.
* Establishes a residential energy efficiency block grant program, with the same formula as the community development block grant program, to distribute grants for the sole purpose of carrying out activities for single-family or multi-family housing that are designed to improve the energy-efficiency of the housing, with a preference to meet the additional efficiency standards highlighted in section 5(b) of the reported bill.
* Partnerships are created with the Secretary and planting organizations to ensure proper siting and landscape architecture utilizing trees, shrubs and grass are planted in the proper manner to provide improve energy efficiency and sustainability.
* Requires federal banking regulators to establish incentives for the development and maintenance of “green banking centers” for the purpose of providing information to customers seeking information about acquiring green mortgages.
* Requires HUD to insure loans made by qualified energy lenders to finance the acquisition of renewable energy systems for lease to homeowners for use at their residences. This provision will open up accessibility for people to lease renewable energy systems for their residences.
Related Resources:
H.R. 2336- Green Resources for Energy Efficient Neighborhoods Act of 2009
Draft Letter of Support to Congress
Coalition Support Letter
H.R. 6078- GREEN Act of 2008
House Financial Services Committee Membership
Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity June 11 Hearing
Colorado Real Estate Rama- Rep. Perlmutter’s Green Housing Provisions Included in H.R. 2454 – American Clean Energy & Security Act (ACES)