Prepared Remarks for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan at the Greening of Public Housing Event with the D.C. Housing Authority

Washington, D.C.
Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

Thank you so much.

[Photo: Shaun Donovan]
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan

It's great to join Mayor Fenty and D.C. Housing Authority Director Michael Kelley, as well Acting Board Chair Marcie Cohen, Councilmember Cheh, and Resident Council President Shirley Pettus here at the Regency House today to celebrate Earth Day and to talk about President Obama's commitment to make Planet Earth cleaner and healthier for all American families- and his comprehensive energy plan to create millions of clean energy jobs, break our dependence on foreign oil, and reduce the threat of deadly pollution.

At HUD, we are carrying out the President's commitment to our planet by ensuring that we are "greening" our nation's housing at every possible turn- whether that housing be public, assisted, or in the private market. In our work on the implementation of the President's Recovery Act and beyond, greening our housing and promoting sustainable communities will be at the forefront of HUD's agenda.

I want to take a moment to commend the D.C. Housing Authority for their tireless work on making this green roof a reality for the seniors who live in this building-and for the continuing renovations they are doing on all of their public housing properties to make them green.

Here at the Regency, the green roof where we're standing right now is just the most visible of the retrofitting work. The building will be able to harvest rainwater to water all of the plants up here, can recover heat from summer air conditioning and use it to heat water, and features newly re-furbished water-efficient utilities, and energy efficient lighting. Let's give the Housing Authority and the elected officials who made this roof possible a round of applause- this is quite an impressive building and a very important step forward for the D.C. Housing Authority.

Residential housing, and the built environment more broadly, are major contributors to energy consumption and global warming, and residential buildings alone account for 20% of U.S. carbon emissions.

Investing in green building practices and energy efficient improvements, like those the D.C. Housing Authority has made, reduces operating costs, saving low and moderate income families money on their utility bills, improves real estate values, creates new clean energy jobs, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, helps us become more energy independent, and preserves existing affordable housing stock.

That's why green building practices and a focus on greening affordable housing stock play a large role in the funding that HUD received under the Recovery Act. Funds from the Recovery Act have been used to install the solar panels here at the Regency.

The D.C. Housing Authority has received $27 million under the Recovery Act. Nationwide, we have obligated nearly $3 billion in Capital Funds to public housing agencies. These funds will enable housing agencies to undertake energy-efficient modernization projects and make large-scale improvements to public housing developments. These projects will both create jobs and save money in energy costs- just like this project will do for the residents of the Regency and for the D.C. Housing Authority as a whole.

While making energy efficient improvements to public housing buildings may seem small when it comes to helping our planet, programs like this are part of President Obama's comprehensive energy plan that addresses the urgent need for jobs, economic growth, and energy independence. Our economic future demands that we all take part in greening our country- and taking part is just what HUD and our partners across the country are doing.

The President's energy policy will jump start the creation of an American clean energy sector that will create millions of clean energy jobs. This sector will create good jobs at good wages in research for new technologies, for skilled workers who weatherize our homes and buildings, and for workers in the factories that manufacture wind turbines.

Investments in a new American clean energy sector are critical to restoring America's role as a global leader in the clean energy industry. American businesses need these investments now to compete with companies in Asia and Europe whose countries are ahead of the United States in making aggressive investments in clean energy. Rather than sending billions overseas to pay for these technologies, we can start investing these dollars here in American jobs and innovation.

At HUD, we are taking steps to achieve all of these objectives and along the way we are engaging our partners at the state, local, and non-profit level us in our greening work. Accomplishing our green goals will take an unprecedented level of collaboration and commitment from both HUD and our partners on the ground. I look forward to continuing to work with the D.C. Housing Authority to ensure that greening and retrofitting work continues to occur here in the District.

Once again, I'd like to wish you all a happy Earth Day and thank you for inviting me here today.


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