Joe Biden wants to remodel your home and help you figure out how to pay for it.
The Vice President today unveiled Recovery through Retrofit (full report here), a program and report designed to lay the groundwork for a full-fledged program for home energy retrofits. And if the program comes to fruition, there's a good chance that PACE loans – which help homeowners finance retrofits with property tax assessments – and mortgages that include loans for energy efficiency will be part of the plan.
The report says that various agencies – the Department of Energy, The Department of the Treasury, HUD, etc. – will work with Fannie Mae, state governments and others to come up with guidelines and/or programs for property assessed clean energy (PACE) and energy-efficiency mortgages.
"A Federal role to encourage PACE pilot programs will also facilitate the collection of data, objectively measure and evaluate the performance of PACE programs, and speed the adoption of more detailed, uniform best practices that include robust and effective homeowner and lender protections," said the report.
PACE programs, created in Berkeley, Calif., have or are being implemented in a number of states.
The report also endorses Energy Star ratings for homes and regional energy performance metrics. Already, $80 billion of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is targeted at energy, the report said, and a large chunk of the money will go toward energy efficiency retrofits. Schools have already begun to spend on retrofits, making them a target market.
It's all good news for the green building industry, which has been gaining momentum in the past year. Proponents assert that better building design and energy efficiency retrofits can save more power and curb more greenhouse gases than solar, wind or other alternative energy technologies at less cost and in less time. Although both President Obama and Energy Secretary Steve Chu have championed energy retrofts, the building industry has been a bit short-changed in Washington. The ARRA gives consumers a 30 percent tax credit on retrofits, up to $1,500. The solar tax credit doesn't come with a low ceiling, a disparity that has caused consternation.
Some of the companies to watch include: Sustainable Spaces (green retrofits and software; see our guest column from Sustainable Founder Matt Golden), Serous Materials (windows, drywall), Zeta Communities (homes), Hycrete, iCrete, E2E Materials, Integrity Block, Project Frog (modular construction) Adura Technologies and Lumenergi (lighting control). Also expect to see giants like Webcor, Bechtel and Autodesk active in this market.
There are 130 million homes in the U.S. and they produce 20 percent of the nation's carbon dioxide. Efficiency retrofits could reduce the carbon dioxide total by 40 percent, or 160 million metric tons by 2020.
Just as important, retrofits could save $21 billion annually in energy bills and create construction jobs for the hard-hit housing sector, the report said.