WASHINGTON - U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan today encouraged a gathering of public housing officials, energy experts, developers and architects to continue exploring innovative practices to build energy-efficient, affordable housing and communities through HUD's HOPE VI Revitalization program.
"President Obama is committed to passing comprehensive energy and climate legislation that will generate millions of jobs, reduce the threat of deadly pollution and restore America's role as a global leader in the clean energy industry," Donovan said. "Increasing energy efficiency among American's affordable housing stock is a central goal of both HUD and the Obama Administration, because it will not only create jobs, but will also lower operating costs for residents, public housing authorities and taxpayers."
Donovan was the keynote speaker at the HOPE VI Green Building and Energy Efficient Development Conference, a HUD-sponsored, 2-day conference held in Washington to train, educate and inform public housing authorities, affordable housing developers and contractors on how to plan, design, build and maintain energy efficient affordable housing communities.
Over the next two days attendees will attend sessions focused on the latest in environmentally-friendly or "green" technologies, construction practices and materials. They can also participate in workshops on financing green developments, certifications and jobs, as well as energy audits. Participants will also get information first-hand from housing authority development experts who are leading the way in building energy-efficient affordable housing communities. Presenters include representatives from other government agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency to talk about its ENERGY STAR program and the Department of Energy to discuss the agency's new and emerging building technologies program. Many of the speakers and those in the audience have already taken the first step and are Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified.
HOPE VI Revitalization grants first awarded in 1993, have given 248 communities a combined $5.9 billion to redevelop their severely distressed public housing and to create mixed-income communities.
The program has also been credited with transforming neighborhoods and improving the quality of life for families who lived in the old developments that were often crime-ridden and drug-infested. HOPE VI recipients have the opportunity to replace the old public housing with new housing using the latest green innovations that can save both the housing authority and residents' energy expenses over time.
For example, a representative from the Portland Housing Authority will talk about salvage and recycling during demolition; dedicated rapid bus line; storm water management; Energy Star appliances and the agency's efforts to make green roofs standard practice at all new developments. The housing authority has also made solar water pre-heat systems standard in new developments. These systems save energy by using the sun to heat water for use in the home for cooking, showering or laundering clothes. The Seattle Housing Authority has installed high-efficiency heating and cooling systems in their public housing and with state-of-the-art ventilation and filtration systems, as part of their "Breathe Easy" program, have substantially improved indoor air quality and the health of their public housing residents.
This conference fits with HUD's larger goal to make America's housing more energy efficient. In addition to the HOPE VI grants, HUD has $600 million available under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act) for public housing authorities to create more energy efficient public housing units. This is part of the $4 billion for public housing through the Recovery Act, which many housing authorities are using for energy efficient upgrades and improvements. HUD also recently entered into a partnership with the Department of Energy to make HUD public and assisted housing categorically eligible for the Department of Energy's Recovery Act weatherization funds. This partnership will allow low-income residents to weatherize their homes to increase efficiency and lower costs.