The Recovery Act: Laying the Foundation for a Clean Energy Economy

Last week, I spoke at two events that helped underscore the extent to which President Obama’s Recovery Act is paving the way for a clean energy economy.

Before an audience of green affordable housing developers at the Communities of the Institute for Professional and Executive Development (IPED) annual conference, I highlighted four ways HUD is using the lessons of the Recovery Act to make this possible—first, by upgrading and retrofitting 230,000 units of HUD’s affordable housing stock to high green standards by the end of this summer; second, by providing new tools to property owners that demonstrate which green improvements they can make and the savings they can generate; third, by using the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) to catalyze new forms of green retrofit financing for single- and multi-family housing; and fourth, by forging interagency partnerships across government to weatherize homes and help clusters of communities work together to reduce the combined cost of housing and transportation.

A day earlier, at the groundbreaking for the green retrofit of the Gibson Plaza Apartments in the Shaw neighborhood of Washington, DC, I saw for myself how these kinds of Recovery Act investments are helping green our homes, improve our quality of life, and create jobs. Over $2 million in Recovery Act funding will help residents of this 40 year old neighborhood anchor cut their utility costs more than 20 percent — at the same time creating 75 good-paying green jobs that can never be sent offshore.

Gibson Plaza reminds us that at the same time the Recovery Act is making homes healthier and more energy efficient, it is preparing the new generation of professionals–from mechanics and plumbers, to architects, energy auditors, and factory workers building solar panels and wind turbines–we need to design, install, and maintain the first wave of green technologies. It’s changing the way we do business and it’s laying the foundation for the clean energy economy America needs to compete and prosper in the 21st century.

Article by Shaun Donovan, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

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