Vice President Joe Biden announced a plan today to bolster the home energy retrofit industry, the latest initiative in the Obama administration's effort to grow American jobs by increasing the nation's energy efficiency.
Underscoring the White House commitment to the effort was the high-powered cast of officials who joined Biden to unveil the measure, a project of the White House Middle Class Task Force. The group included: White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan.
The officials unveiled a four-part program that helps homeowners evaluate and upgrade their home’s energy efficiency, establishes standards for industry workers, and promotes green small business opportunities.
“The initiatives announced today are putting the "Recovery Through Retrofit" report’s recommendations into action -- giving American families the tools they need to invest in home energy upgrades,” Biden said. “Together, these programs will grow the home retrofit industry and help middle-class families save money and energy.”
One of the elements: A "home energy score," created by the Energy Department to rate a home’s energy efficiency -- and help homeowners calculate how much money they could save by making retrofits.
The agency is launching the score as a pilot program before increasing its availability. It goes hand in hand with the Federal Housing Administration's PowerSaver program, which helps homeowners obtain federally-insured loans from private lenders to make energy improvements.
Along with the energy efficiency measures, the task force is also proposing voluntary standards for workers who perform retrofitting. These include training guidelines and guidelines for maintaining indoor air quality during the work.
In addition, the Small Business Administration is offering an online "Green Business Opportunities" course to help would-be home energy retrofit entrepreneurs.