After releasing her plan to make the US "the clean energy superpower of the 21st century" last year, Hillary Clinton’s next environmental proposal is to dramatically increase our nation’s energy efficiency.
The proposal gives us insight into how Clinton would govern. There are no new big ideas, she simply takes the best ones and pushes them further.
She would set a national goal of cutting energy waste by a third within 10 years from buildings: homes, schools, businesses, hospitals, and local government. Programs would be paid for through a National Infrastructure bank and a series of government challenge grants.
It’s a worthy goal, and one that we are already working towards through President Obama’s Better Building Challenge. There, building owners pledge to reduce energy consumption across their portfolios by 20% within 10 years. Clinton expands it by another 13%.
Key programs Clinton builds on:
- Building Codes: the first US Green Building Code was released in 2011 and another in 2013, but home builders want a "whole house" code and Clinton would give it to them, while accelerating development and deployment of advanced building technology and practices. Obama has addressed these issues through several executive orders.
- Benchmarking and Transparency: many of the most progressive cities now require large buildings to report their energy performance to the public. Not only does this encourage greater efficiency, it provides the information for real estate listings, which now include ratings of buildings. Clinton would make this a national requirement.
- Energy efficient mortgages: Although lenders have yet to acknowledge it, the more efficient the house, the lower the mortgage default risk. Clinton would make sure efficiency investments are accurately valued in mortgages and she would make a home’s energy costs available to prospective buyers. This alone would save households $1.3 billion a year and create 83,000 jobs, according to the Institute for Market Transformation.
Currently, Fannie Mae gives interest discounts for green multifamily buildings and Freddie Mac helps them become more water and energy efficient.
- EPA’s Energy Star program: she would expand it to an even broader range of products.
- Phase out polluting oil and propane heating oils: challenge grants to cities and states that replace residential and commercial boilers and furnaces with cleaner alternatives.
- Upgrade heating and cooling systems in municipal buildings, universities, schools and hospitals, which consume about a third of non-residential building energy.
- Workforce Training on Efficiency: engineers, architects, construction trades, and other advanced building-related professionals can get certified to install and operate efficiency technologies, such as NYC’s Green Supers program.
Curious about which policies produce the greatest energy efficiency? Read our article, What’s Pushing Us Toward Greater Energy Efficiency?