NAHB Testifies House Energy Bill Would Harm Housing Affordability

thumbs downNAHB today urged the House to oppose to H.R. 3962, the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2019, warning that the legislation would exacerbate the nation’s housing affordability woes.

Testifying on behalf of NAHB before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy, Arn McIntyre, a green builder from Grand Rapids, Mich., said that several provisions in H.R. 3962 would needlessly raise home construction costs while doing little to boost energy efficiency in the housing sector.  

“This legislation would harm housing affordability as a result of its mandates for overly costly and aggressive energy efficiency requirements to be included in model building energy codes,” said McIntyre. “NAHB is also concerned that the bill will expand the federal government’s authority over state and local governments’ prerogatives to adopt cost-effective and location-appropriate building codes.”

With the nation in the midst of a housing affordability crisis, McIntyre added that H.R. 3962 would worsen the problem by:

  • Focusing on initiatives that will increase costs for new housing and buildings while ignoring the existing older structures, which constitute more than 80 percent of the U.S. building stock and are responsible for an even greater portion of greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption;
  • Failing to establish reasonable criteria for technology readiness or meet the economic payback period expected by the consumer (less than 10 years) for any minimum code requirement or proposal supported or initiated by the Department of Energy (DOE);
  • Empowering the DOE to advocate for overly prescriptive, not fully vetted, and costly energy targets for new residential buildings; and
  • Authorizing the DOE to impinge on the states’ abilities to customize model codes to meet their specific jurisdictional goals to improve building performance.

“NAHB wants to work as a partner with all levels of government to encourage energy efficiency,” said McIntyre. “However, we must all work together to ensure housing affordability is not jeopardized in the process. Therefore, NAHB urges Congress to focus on solutions that are market driven, such as above code voluntary programs and other incentives, and to focus on increasing the energy efficiency of the existing housing stock.”

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Comments (6)

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  1. Scott Sedam says:

    Perhaps NAHB is right about this. But it echos what we have heard for decades about air and water pollution standards, vehicle emission and mileage standards, etc. etc. that were all going to destroy the economy. Somehow, we survived. It is sad but true that if not for government mandates, we’d be nowhere near where we are in terms of vehicle efficiency, which is truly remarkable compared to 20-30 years ago. And anyone who lives in the Great Lakes, well, we don’t even want to think about the condition they’d now be in without the Clean Water Act and its requirements which were then considered onerous. I absolutely wish we did not need government to push industy on these issues, but the evidence says we do.

    I would like to see some of the strong home building groups like EEBA weigh in on this.

  2. Bill Gschwind says:

    If only all players could come to the table capable of putting aside individual and philosophical agendas, these issues might be resolved more reasonably and the housing affordability crisis could addressed. We all support a building code that provides for safe and durable housing. Many of us would choose to pay more for a home built well above a safe and durable baseline. We all have to make choices when buying or building a home. We each make those choices based on our individual needs, wants, and pocketbook. Trade-offs are a necessary part of the individual’s decision making.

    When we determine that the home purchaser doesn’t have the ability to make the choices appropriate for her/him, we not only disrespect that purchaser, we also take away a little slice of that person’s liberty. Many in the environmental community seem frustrated that their goals are not everyone’s goals. They use government mandates to force choices upon people that they wouldn’t make on their own. Their environmental concerns are so important to them that they’re willing to price as many as half of US citizens out of home ownership to impose their choices on everyone.

    Sadly, the housing affordability crisis is being driven to a very large extent on these feel-good/do-good folks who, in their short-sighted drive to create their utopian world, are willing to sacrifice the home ownership dreams of everyone else who can’t afford or don’t want to pay for the idealists’ dreams.

  3. Dan says:

    Any specifics of the bill so we as NAHB members can make up our own minds as to cost/benefit of the bill?

  4. Debra Lombard says:

    If a home or apartment is more energy efficient, then it’s residents will spend less money on electricity and gas and would in effect have more money to pay on higher home costs, like the concept of the energy efficient mortgage. However no one mentions the fact that an energy efficient home is more comfortable & healthier to live in. That’s especially important to Seniors and children living there.
    Examples:
    -Proper ventilation and fresh air requirements per design of home with appliances concerned.
    -Induced Negative Pressure in a home can lead to indoor air problems for residents and improper ventilation and installed insulation can lead to mold growth.
    Yes, old and existing homes need to be addressed when it comes to these issues and hopefully any substantial renovations to such will be captured by energy codes. The Building Officials NEED to enforce the codes.

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