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HUD Unveils Strategy to Deal with Climate Change

HUD’s “Climate Action Plan” has broad goals: Help communities prepare, set green building/electrification goals, create jobs and revise environmental review policies.

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released its Climate Action Plan, which it calls a “comprehensive strategy to reduce the agency’s energy and carbon footprint and put our nation’s communities on the path to building more equitable, efficient and sustainable housing infrastructure.”

HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge announced the plan virtually in front of world and business leaders attending the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, United Kingdom,

“We are in the midst of a global climate crisis and we have limited time to respond,” Fudge said. “HUD’s Climate Action Plan will meet the urgency of this moment. The U.S. is leading the fight against climate change, and in Glasgow, we will set the example at home and around the world that HUD and the entire Biden-Harris Administration is committed to delivering climate justice in our communities.”

The Climate Action Plan was developed in response to a presidential executive order. In response to that order, HUD says it will implement a broad approach that reduces climate pollution, increases resilience to the impacts of climate change, protects public health, delivers environmental justice and spurs well-paying union jobs and economic growth.

In order to implement and track the actions detailed in the Climate Action Plan, HUD created the Climate and Environmental Justice Council, comprised of Assistant Secretaries from across the agency.

Highlights from the Climate Action Plan

Noting that low-income residents and people of color often bear more of the impact when climate-related disasters strike, HUD, in partnership with local leaders, announced a number of resources to help cities respond equitably to the climate crisis.

  1. HUD Climate Communities Initiative: Cities and localities are on the front lines of the climate emergency, HUD claims, and through a partnership with local leaders, it will offer a suite of resources, support and tools to help cities respond equitably the climate crisis, including a climate resilience toolkit, implementation models, peer-to-peer learning opportunities, stakeholder engagement with underserved communities, and direct support to a group of climate cities.
  1. Green building and electrification: In order to help low-income households and communities of color, HUD will align building and substantial rehabilitation incentives with energy efficiency and equitable decarbonization goals, including a requirement that new construction achieve green building standards. HUD says it will finalize rules that include strengthened minimum energy standards as required by statute.

    In addition, HUD announced a partnership with the Department of Energy’s Better Climate Challenge, an extension of the Better Buildings Challenge. Three HUD partners (King County Housing Authority, Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation, and Community Housing Partners) have joined the climate challenge so far and pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% in 10 years.
  1. Green jobs: HUD says it will strengthen partnerships with the Department of Labor, Department of Energy and unions to ensure green-jobs programs in the communities HUD serves and will devote additional resources related to green workforce development training. HUD recently launched a Building Futures pilot at two public housing sites. The pilot program’s goal is to identify pathways to meaningful long-term employment in green jobs and construction industries for public housing residents.
  1. Healthy housing: HUD plans to revise its environmental review policies to ensure consideration of climate- and environmental justice-related hazards and health risks in all proposed site selection and placement of new assistance activities.

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