Senate Bill Adds SAVE Act, but Fixes Still Needed

Filed in Advocacy, Codes and Standards, Environment by on April 20, 2016 7 Comments

GreenHousewithLightbulbThe Senate today passed a wide-ranging energy bill which includes an important NAHB-backed provision that would help finance energy-efficient homes.

Specifically, the measure incorporates the Sensible Accounting to Value Energy (SAVE) Act, which would improve the accuracy of FHA mortgage underwriting by including a home’s expected energy cost savings when determining the value and affordability of energy-efficient homes.

Utility bills can be larger than either real estate taxes or home owners insurance, but they are currently ignored in mortgage underwriting.

The SAVE Act would:

  • Enable better mortgage underwriting
  • Reduce utility bills for American home owners
  • Provide affordable financing for home energy improvements
  • Spark job creation in the housing industry
  • Cost taxpayers nothing

The SAVE Act is not included in a companion House energy bill. As the bills go to a House-Senate conference, NAHB will urge lawmakers to ensure that the final package includes House language that includes this legislation.

While the SAVE Act is a victory for home builders nationwide, the Senate bill also includes language that would inevitably result in overly burdensome and expensive building energy codes. Conversely, the companion House bill includes NAHB-supported language that would reform the development of these codes, ensuring product neutrality and cost-effectiveness.

Specifically, the House language would:

  • Improve affordability by requiring any Department of Energy-supported code or code change proposal to have a payback period of 10 years or less, meaning that these higher costs are paid back through utility savings.
  • Increase transparency in the development of model building energy codes by ensuring that all Department of Energy code change proposals are made available to the public, including calculations on cost savings.
  • Ensure product neutrality by prohibiting the Department of Energy from advocating on behalf of certain products or technologies.
  • Protect a state’s right to adopt any code, standard or version deemed appropriate.

Ensuring the House language on building energy codes prevails will be NAHB’s top priority for the House-Senate conference. For more information, contact Billie Kaumaya at 800-368-5242 x8570.

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Comments (7)

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  1. Stacy Roland says:

    SO, while we build energy efficient homes already, the “rub” is that we get nothing for it in the appraisal process. We are not given anything for a HERS rated home, extra insulation, or any of the energy efficient items and processes we use. So in the end, while the homeowner gets a superior product we get the shaft. Is there anything that addresses a monetary value to certain energy efficient items or processes in the appraisal process? That is what is in desperate need. Why should a builder build an energy efficient home when his competitors don’t and get just as much for their home?

    • NAHB Now says:

      Stacy, we hear you. The good news is that NAHB has worked with the Appraisal Institute and Building Codes Assistance Project to come up with some solutions. You can get the details in this NAHBNow blog post from January:

      • Stacy Roland says:

        While that is good news it appears we have no one in Calhoun County Alabama who falls under the approved appraisers. Can we give the page you referred to them to try and make them accountable so we do not get raped, again! It is to the point of not wanting to build when we walk away with less than a realtor for all our efforts. Some advise as to how to hold them accountable would be appreciated. Thank you.

        • NAHB Now says:

          While there are only two appraisers listed in Alabama on the registry, but there may be other qualified Appraisal Institute Designated members who handle green assignments but have not taken the Valuation of Sustainable Buildings Professional Development Program. The Appraisal Institute recommends that you visit the Find an Appraiser directory at find Designated members who have identified green/sustainability as a specialty.

          So, this may be another avenue to explore as you look for a qualified appraiser.

  2. Sean Callahan says:

    Did this bill every get passed into law?

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