Industry groups applaud new energy codes set by HUD, USDA

Published on April 29, 2024 by Dave Kovaleski

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An update from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Department of Agriculture (USDA) on energy codes today for federally supported homes across the country was welcomed by industry groups and advocates.

The newly adopted code requirements are designed to strengthen efficiency requirements for new houses and multifamily units that are purchased with federally backed loans such as Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and USDA mortgages, along with new homes with funding from other HUD programs. These new homes are primarily occupied by low- and moderate-income homeowners and renters.

Houses and multifamily buildings meeting the up-to-date codes generally have more insulation in the walls and roofs, better air sealing and windows, and more energy-efficient heating and cooling systems, including better-sealed ducts. Generally, the codes are designed to reduce housing costs, default risks to lenders, and greenhouse gas emissions and other pollution.

“This long-overdue action will protect homeowners and renters from high energy costs while making a real dent in climate pollution. It makes no sense for the government to help people move into new homes that waste energy and can be dangerous in extreme temperatures. Now the Federal Housing Finance Agency should do its part and direct Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to adopt these codes for even more homes,” Lowell Ungar, federal policy director of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, said.

By improving energy efficiency, the requirements will save residents an estimated $15,071 for single-family homes and $5,886 per multifamily unit over 30 years, net of costs, the agencies said. Further, residents of single-family homes would save $963 every year on energy costs, on average.

“As a leading standards development organization, NEMA has a lengthy history of leading on code adoption and energy efficiency in the building sector—and our members manufacture products that contribute to the construction of these safe, efficient, and resilient homes in communities across the United States. NEMA commends Acting HUD Secretary Todman and USDA Secretary Vilsack for their leadership on this final determination that will create cost savings, generate efficiency gains, and further reduce emissions from buildings, benefitting all Americans. This decision will lower the energy burden on low-income homes, reducing monthly utility bills in the process,” Debra Phillips, president and CEO of the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), said.