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Federal Government Unveils 'Recovery Through
Retrofit Report'

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency joined the Office of the Vice President, the White House Council on Environmental Quality, White House Offices and other federal departments and agencies to announce the Recovery Through Retrofit report, a comprehensive roadmap to grow green job opportunities and boost energy savings by retrofitting homes while, at the same time, reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“This is the right thing for our environment and our economy – and the right time for action,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “Our Energy Star program can help families cut up to 30 percent off their energy bills - saving the average household more than $700 a year through efficiency investments. Capitalizing on efficiency opportunities in millions of American homes will bring good jobs to communities, help families save money when they need it most, and reduce air pollution while we grow our green economy.”

The Recovery Through Retrofit Report builds on investments made in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to expand the home energy efficiency and retrofit market. With the Energy Star program, EPA brings to the table one of the federal government’s most successful programs. The Energy Star program will play a central role in promoting energy efficiency to consumers under the implementation of the Recovery Through Retrofit recommendations. In particular, Home Performance with Energy Star offers homeowners a whole-house, building science-based approach to improving the energy efficiency of their homes.

EPA will expand Home Performance with Energy Star to identify and work with communities that already take advantage of the financing and worker training made available through the Recovery Through Retrofit initiative. These showcase communities will be used as models to help accelerate home retrofits and innovative financing to drive greater energy efficiency across the country.

EPA will also help develop a new energy performance label for homes and work to establish national workforce certifications and training standards.

Energy Star was introduced by EPA in 1992 as a voluntary, market-based partnership to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency. Today, the Energy Star label can be found on more than 60 different kinds of products including lighting, appliances, TVs, computers and other office equipment, and consumer electronics, as well as new homes, schools, and commercial buildings.

Existing techniques and technologies in energy efficiency retrofitting can reduce energy use by up to 40 percent per home and lower total associated greenhouse gas emissions by up to 160 million metric tons annually. Retrofitting existing homes also has the potential to cut home energy bills by $21 billion annually. Yet, despite the real energy cost savings and environmental benefits associated with improving home energy efficiency, a series of barriers have prevented a self-sustaining retrofit market from forming. These barriers include a lack of access to information, financing and skilled workers.

The recommendations and actions in this report have been carefully designed to help overcome these barriers and to leverage recovery act funding to help ensure that the energy efficiency market will thrive long after the recovery act money is fully spent.

Some recommendations in the Recovery Through Retrofit report include:

  • Provide American homeowners with straightforward and reliable home energy retrofit information: Consumers need consistent, accessible, and trusted information that provides a reliable benchmark of energy efficiency and sound estimates of the costs and benefits of home energy retrofits.
  • Reduce high upfront costs, making energy retrofits more accessible: Access to retrofit financing should be more transparent, more accessible, repayable over a longer time period, and more consumer-friendly.
  • Establish national workforce certifications and training standards: A uniform set of national standards to qualify energy efficiency and retrofit workers and industry training providers will establish the foundation of consumer confidence that work will be completed correctly and produce the expected energy savings and benefits. Such standards should incorporate healthy and environmentally friendly housing principles, as outlined in the report titled, the Surgeon General’s Call to Action To Promote Healthy Homes (2009). Proper certification and training standards will ensure that retrofitted homes are healthy homes. Consistent high-level national standards will spur the use of qualified training providers that offer career-track programs for people of all skill levels, promote and expand green jobs opportunities and facilitate the mobilization of a national home retrofit workforce.

The full report and recommendations: http://www.whitehouse.gov/assets/documents/Recovery_Through_Retrofit_Final_Report.pdf

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