With gas prices topping $4 a gallon families and businesses are facing a real burden. But we can take action to ensure the American people don't fall victim to volatile energy costs over the long term.
And with 40 percent of America's carbon emissions coming from our buildings, one of the most important steps is building and retrofitting homes to cost less to power, heat and cool.
That's why nearly a third of HUD's Recovery Act funds can be used for "greening" America's affordable housing stock.
With these funds, we are on track to provide 245,000 affordable homes with a range of energy improvements, while another 55,000 receive green retrofits that will save up to 40 percent in energy costs.
Dozens of those homes can be found in the San Francisco Bay Area at Eden Issei Terrace, a 100‐apartment residence for low‐income seniors in Hayward, California. Using $750,000 in Recovery Act funds, Eden made energy upgrades that are already cutting utility costs by a third. Just as important, this investment has created good-paying jobs that can't be outsourced.
Properties like these have proven that investments in green housing pay for themselves.
Our challenge now is to catalyze that change on a transformational scale - driven by the massive private investment we need to win the future.
That's why I went to Eden Issei Tuesday to launch Green Refinance Plus - a new Obama Administration initiative that builds on Recovery Act investments to unlock the private capital we need to retrofit thousands of affordable homes.
A joint effort between the Federal Housing Administration and Fannie Mae, Green Refinance Plus will help owners of older affordable multifamily properties be among the first to go green while refinancing their mortgages at today's historically low interest rates.
While FHA provides additional insurance coverage, Fannie Mae will provide loan underwriting that will generate additional loan proceeds to make green improvements.
A typical development will be able to access a loan that is 5 percent larger. For a $5 million loan, that means an additional $250,000 will be available to support green systems and appliances -- saving owners and renters money, while reducing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.
Green Refinance Plus provides real bang for the buck -- and another jolt to our economy, which has already added 2.1 million private sector jobs over 14 consecutive months.
Over the next four years, the green building industry will support nearly 8 million jobs and generate more than a half trillion dollars in economic activity.
Together, these efforts reflect a fundamental belief of President Obama's: That when we invest in clean energy, we invest in a new generation of professionals, ready to build, install, repair and maintain clean energy technologies.
That greening our homes is one of the keys to the 21st century economy -- and to out-innovating our competitors.
And that real change requires leadership, solutions and capital from the private sector.
Driving that change is what Green Refinance Plus is about -- and why I was proud to unveil it this week.