Energy Efficiency Should Remain Accessible to All

A natural question in this post-election environment is what the change in Administration and Congress will mean for investments in energy efficiency. For some, the threats to the Clean Power Plan (CPP) foretell the end of the clean energy economy. There’s no doubt that we need to fight to preserve the CPP. But it’s also true that there are other steps we must take to continue to advance a clean energy future for all Americans, including the most vulnerable among us. 

Over the past several years, NRDC has worked with the Energy Foundation, the National Housing Trust, Elevate Energy and more than three dozen other national, regional, and state organizations to advance energy efficiency in affordable multifamily housing through Energy Efficiency for All (EEFA). EEFA has successfully unlocked more than $230 million in new funding for energy efficiency investments in affordable housing by working in 12 states to build diverse coalitions and find consensus for solutions to the energy burden crisis in low-income communities.

EEFA’s success demonstrates the broad appreciation for the benefits of energy efficiency in red and blue states, alike, and in all regions of the country. Our project strategy has secured wins in many states won by President-Elect Trump: Pennsylvania, Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, and Missouri.  We’ve made the case that energy efficiency provides many benefits. It continues to be the least-cost, demand-management strategy. Energy efficiency investments create jobs (1.9 million in a recent analysis) and for every dollar a family saves in residential energy cost, $2 are put back into the local economy, supporting economic growth. In affordable multifamily housing, that can climb to $3 for every dollar invested. Through energy efficiency we can reduce fossil fuel demand, harmful carbon emissions (and co-pollutants) and provide cost savings and improved indoor air quality for families. 

Now more than ever, EEFA is committed to continuing our work in states and localities to increase energy efficiency investments in affordable housing.  States play a pivotal role in driving energy policy, as evidenced by California’s ambitious climate strategy and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.  

The clean energy economy is growing both here in the United States and around the world, and investment will continue to grow, albeit more slowly, even with things on hold in Washington. EEFA has a critical role to play in ensuring that those investments reach low-income communities. To minimize costs, protect low income communities, safeguard public health, create jobs and lower risk, states should maximize energy efficiency investment now.

This is the second  in a series of reflections and analyses by the NRDC Urban Solutions team on our commitment to climate action in cities and neighborhoods in the face of systemic inequality.

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