Prepared Remarks for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan at the Green Retrofit Press Conference on the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day

Garfield Hill Apartments
Washington, D.C.
Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

Thank you so much. It's an honor to be with all of you. Today, as we celebrate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, I am proud to announce $1.5 million in Recovery Act funding going to "green" the homes here at Garfield Hill.

Today is a special Earth Day in so many ways -- because for so long, we've been told by critics that caring about the health of our planet was somehow in conflict with America's economic prosperity.

But in fact, as President Obama has demonstrated over the last year, they're absolutely essential to one another.

Today we recognize that green building is not only essential to lowering greenhouse gas emissions and energy costs, or reducing our dangerous dependence on foreign oil -- it's essential to building a 21st century economy and the kind of strong, sustainable, and inclusive communities our country needs to compete and prosper.

That's why laying the foundation for a clean energy economy was a fundamental principle underlying President Obama's Recovery Act.

Of the nearly $14 billion in Recovery Act funds HUD is providing to communities across the country, nearly a third can be used for "greening" America's public and assisted housing stock. Already, we've provided $600 million to help 169 public housing authorities nationwide make energy efficiency upgrades to their properties.

The $1.5 million in funding we're announcing today to green Garfield Hill is part of a brand new $250 million effort to extend that to HUD-assisted housing across the country.

Thanks to the Recovery Act, the Green Retrofit Program will create thousands of green jobs as workers retrofit older federally assisted multi-family apartment developments with the next generation of energy efficient technologies -- helping landlords and property management companies cut heating, air conditioning and water costs by installing more efficient heating, cooling and water systems.

These funds encourage the use of recycled building materials and can be used for a wide range of retrofit activities, ranging from windows and doors to solar panels and geothermal installation. Here at Garfield Hill, these funds will allow management to install high-efficiency gas furnaces and air conditioning units, EnergyStar programmable thermostats, water-saving devices, and other green and energy efficient technologies.

For residents, the benefits are clear. These upgrades will not only help save our environment -- they will help save money by cutting tenant utility costs by 21 percent.

Not only will they improve the health of our planet -- they will also improve the health of our families by increasing ventilation in the building and using safer, greener paints and building materials we know are essential to giving children the healthy start they need in life.

Just as importantly, these funds will create good-paying green jobs right here in this community -- jobs that can never be sent offshore.

Indeed, at the same time Recovery Act funds like these are making homes healthier and more energy efficient, they are preparing the new generation of professionals--from mechanics and plumbers, to architects, energy auditors, and factory workers building solar panels and wind turbines--we need to design, install, and maintain the first wave of green technologies.

I'm excited about this program and how it is helping jumpstart the Obama Administration's broader efforts to forge, greener and smarter development in communities across the country -- by addressing health hazards at the same time we make energy upgrades to build greener, healthier homes, and by increasing access to public transportation so people can spend less time and money commuting to work and school and more time with family.

I hope efforts like Garfield Hills illustrate that President Obama is committed to improving the quality of life for residents of HUD housing and making green building an engine of economic growth, jobs and opportunity for every community.

I hope they show that, for the Obama Administration, Earth Day isn't just something we celebrate once a year, but rather, every day in every policy -- creating jobs, saving families money, and ensuring our children's futures are never determined by the zip codes they grow up in.

That is what this investment is about -- and it's why I'm glad to join you today. Thank you.


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