The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) earlier this month announced that all $250 million in grants and loans from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) for the department's Green Retrofit Program were obligated by the Sept. 30 statutory deadline.
The $250 million, awarded nationally, is now dedicated to developments to provide nearly 20,000 homes nationwide with energy-efficient upgrades. In addition to the green improvements, the green retrofit grants and loans are expected to reduce utility consumption by more than 25 percent on average, saving these low-income properties $12 million annually on utility bills.
HUD's Green Retrofit Program for Multifamily Housing, created for the first time through ARRA, provided 221 projects across the U.S. with awards to reduce utility consumption, improve indoor air quality, and generate savings for tens of thousands of affordable housing residents.
The Green Retrofit Program is expected to create thousands of green jobs as workers retrofit older federally assisted multi-family apartment developments with the next generation of energy-efficient technologies. Grants and loans provided through this program help private landlords and property management companies cut heating and air conditioning costs by installing more efficient heating and cooling systems and by reducing water use through, for example, replacement of faucets and toilets.
These ARRA funds also are expected to produce other environmental benefits by encouraging the use of recycled building materials, reflective roofing, and non-toxic products to reduce ‘off-gassing' of potentially harmful fumes. Funds were awarded to owners of HUD-assisted housing projects to be used for various retrofit activities, ranging from windows/doors to solar panels and geothermal installation.
ARRA included $13.61 billion for projects and programs administered by HUD, nearly 75 percent of which was allocated to state and local recipients within eight days after President Obama signed the measure into law. The remaining 25 percent was awarded through competitive grant programs, including the Green Retrofit Program.
HUD Spokesperson Provides Additional Information to Green Building insider
In the following email interview with Green Building Insider, HUD spokesperson Ashley Gammon provided the following additional details about the department's Green Retrofit Program:
GBI: Overall, about how many applications were submitted for the 220+ green retrofit projects? About how many applications were originally expected?
Gammon: We received over 700 applications, more than 500 unique applications. Some of the 700 were re-applications. We did not estimate how many we might receive.
GBI: What is the scheduled timetable for actual completion of the retrofits?
Gammon: It varies by project, depending on the scope of work, necessary sequencing of work, weather considerations, building permits, etc. For the majority of the projects funded, the work will be completed 6-12 months after funding. Projects are required to start work within 60 days of funding, and completion incentives for owners are tied to timely, and on-budget, completion of the funded scope of work.
GBI: What follow-up work, if anything, will be done at some point in the future to measure the performance of these upgrades?
Gammon: All funded projects established a baseline of utility consumption based on at least 12 months of utility bills, normalized for occupancy and weather variances. After retrofits are completed, and the property has had one full year of operations, utility bills will again be collected, normalized, and analyzed to determine exactly the reductions in consumption resulting from the retrofits and behavioral changes. For each project, an estimate of utility savings was calculated based on the energy retrofits planned. Average projected utility savings are in excess of 25 percent.
GBI: What, if anything, would HUD have done differently in administering the Green Retrofit Program during this Recovery Act funding phase? What lessons were learned?
Gammon: As with other Recovery Act programs, HUD is reviewing lessons learned, best practices adopted, and tools developed to support the Green Retrofit Program to ensure that ongoing, permanent programs at HUD benefit from those best practices.
GBI: What plans have been made for the Green Retrofit Program after this Recovery Act funding phase? When may any additional funds be provided?
Gammon: Additional funds would have to come from a specific appropriation. At this time, there is no such funding available. As with other Recovery Act programs, HUD is reviewing lessons learned, best practices adopted, and tools developed to support the Green Retrofit Program to ensure that ongoing, permanent programs at HUD benefit from those best practices.
Steve Rizer, Editor
Green Building Insider