2008-06-30, 08:47

The GREEN Act of 2008

By: Multifamily Real Estate Industry Team
On May 15, 2008, a group of Congressional Representatives introduced H.R. 6078, the "GREEN Act of 2008". The bill was referred to the House Financial Services Committee.
On June 11, 2008, the National Multi-Family Housing Council (NMHC) and the National Apartment Association (NAA), through Alan George of Equity Residential, testified before the Committee. NMHC and NAA presented a number of specific recommendations for improving the bill.

1. Remove the mandatory green requirements in the Hope VI program, the effect of which, in NMHC's and NAA's opinion, will be to impose undue costs and burdens on both the developers and residents participating in these affordable housing programs.

2. Tie minimum energy efficiency standards and sustainability benchmarks to nationally recognized codes and standards, as has been done in the development of the new National Green Building Standard (NGBS) which, according to NMHC and NAA, has been written to be seamlessly incorporated into existing codes, and which also has followed the strict standard-setting procedures established by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). See http://www.nahb.org/news_details.aspx?newsID=6222

3. Expand the bill's proposed energy efficient demonstration program to include both new and existing multi-family properties in all federally assisted properties, not just those that are Section 8, so long as the programs are not mandatory in nature.

4. Convene a blue-ribbon task force to develop policy reommendations concerning the best way for the FHA to establish mortgage insurance or rate incentives for energy efficient multi-family properties to insure that any changes in the FHA's program do not negatively impact the supply of affordable housing.

5. Remove the bill's directive that at least 50 percent of paved surfaces that are not shaded be covered by solar energy panels, green roofs, or be part of a geothermal system, and instead allow developers and local governments the flexibility that is necessary to achieve the goal of more sustainable properties, e.g., California and Chicago require white (solar reflecting) roofs in some applications.

6. Create in the bill an Energy Star designation for multi-family properties so that owners of multi-family housing stock can market their energy efficient properties just as is done with single family homes.

To read the entire testimony and to find a copy of H.R. 6078, go to http://www.nmhc.org/.

(This entry posted by Karen Estelle Carey, a member of the Real Estate Development group and multi-family housing team.)

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