CalCEF Reveals Residential Energy Efficiency Roadmap to Strengthen Housing Market

home owner energy efficiencyWhite paper presents actionable solutions to improve home values, stabilize loan portfolios and meet California’s energy goals

In a white paper released today, CalCEF outlines new strategies for uniting public policies and private financing tools to unlock massive home energy savings nationwide.

Using California to demonstrate real-world market opportunities, CalCEF’s recommendations align the state’s energy, housing, and economic recovery agendas to transform the residential energy efficiency (EE) marketplace.

Understanding a prospective home’s utility costs gives borrowers a more educated decision about home affordability, and results in a marginally lower risk for financial institutions.

California has been ground zero of the housing crisis. At the end of 2011, one out of every three homes were underwater and the state accounted for 26 percent of the nation’s negative equity, said Lori Bamberger, the report’s lead author and CalCEF Entrepreneur-in-Residence.

By coupling the worlds of borrower protection and energy efficiency, we can protect homeowners from the unforeseen surprise of high energy bills and ultimately stabilize loan portfolios, improve home values and meet our climate targets.

The report, Pulling the Trigger: Increasing Home Energy Savings,recommends a set of government and utility initiatives for integrating energy efficiency (EE) retrofits into key trigger moments when homeowners already act and invest resources, such as the time of sale, time of renovation and at the time of energy rate tier increases. By embedding mandatory energy disclosures, customized financial incentives and system upgrades into these ordinary and revolving events, policymakers can mobilize large-scale residential EE improvements and stimulate the nation’s economic development.

This report identifies the most promising moments of opportunity for improving a home’s energy performance during its life cycle,” said Stockton Williams, HR&A Advisors, former senior advisor, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and U.S. Department of Energy. Its recommendations provide practical, common sense steps that policymakers can take to help families save money by living in more energy efficient and environmentally responsible homes.

CalCEF identified four categories of actions disclose, enforce, incentivize, and finance to be implemented at each trigger event. Recommendations include:

Disclose the energy costs and efficiency of a home at the time of sale and standardize an energy feature list for all the Multiple Listing Services (MLS).

Re-target and customize existing EE incentive programs and funding to better serve homeowners at each trigger point.

Enforce stricter standards and permitting requirements to qualify access to incentives for energy upgrades.

Broaden the distribution of utilities tier-alert notifications to all ratepayers and include warnings on the long-term costs of high-tier rates, offering consumers that remain in upper energy rate tiers an EE upgrade and funds from averted costs to reduce consumption.

Develop modifications to existing mortgage financing, refinancing and home equity products that incentivize and incorporate EE.

Greater efficiency will reduce and stabilize home energy expenses, reducing household indebtedness and protecting the homeowner’s ability to make mortgage payments.

Understanding a prospective home’s utility costs gives borrowers a more educated decision about home affordability, and results in a marginally lower risk for financial institutions,” said Brad Blackwell, Executive Vice President and Portfolio Business Manager of Wells Fargo Home Mortgage.

The whitepaper is the outcome of a series of convenings and interviews with critical stakeholders from the energy efficiency, utility, real estate, construction and banking industries as well as state and federal legislators. CalCEF will continue its leadership role in collaborating with these stakeholders to progress California’s Energy Efficiency Program for Existing Buildings (AB 758) and through ongoing CPUC EE financing proceedings.

About CalCEF

CalCEF works to promote the transition to a clean energy economy by creating institutions and investment vehicles that grow markets for clean energy technologies. CalCEF is a non-profit umbrella organization that pursues statewide and national agendas via two affiliated entities governed by separate boards of directors comprised of prominent policy makers, scientists, entrepreneurs, and financial professionals. CalCEF Innovations, a 501(c)(3), leads CalCEF’s analysis and product development, designing real-world solutions market strategies, business models, and public policies that rapidly advance clean energy adoption. The California Clean Energy Fund, a 501(c)(4), executes and scales the CalCEF investment strategy via a fund-of-funds model, partnering with leading investment managers.

About BlueGreen Alliance

The BlueGreen Alliance is a national, strategic partnership between labor unions and environmental organizations dedicated to expanding the number and quality of jobs in the green economy. Launched in 2006 by the United Steelworkers and the Sierra Club, this unique labor-environmental collaboration has grown to include the Communications Workers of America (CWA), Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Service Employees International Union (SEIU), National Wildlife Federation (NWF), Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA), Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), American Federation of Teachers (AFT), Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), United Auto Workers (UAW), and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW). The BlueGreen Alliance unites 14 million members and supporters in pursuit of good jobs, a clean environment and a green economy.

About UC Berkeley Labor Center

The Center for Labor Research and Education (Labor Center) is a public service and outreach program of the UC Berkeley Institute for Research on Labor and Employment (formerly the Institute of Industrial Relations). Founded in 1964, the Labor Center conducts research and education on issues related to labor and employment. The Labor Centers curricula and leadership trainings serve to educate a diverse new generation of labor leaders. The Labor Center carries out research on topics such as job quality and workforce development issues, and we work with unions, government, and employers to develop innovative policy perspectives and programs. We also provide an important source of research and information on unions and the changing workforce for students, scholars, policymakers and the public.

About Gordon Smith
Gordon's expertise in the area of industrial energy efficiency and alternative energy. He is an experienced electrical engineer with a Masters degree in Alternative Energy technology. He is the co-founder of several renewable energy media sites including Solar Thermal Magazine.

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