Prepared Remarks for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan at the Green Retrofit Press Conference with Senator Reed

Warwick, Rhode Island
Monday, April 26th, 2010

Thank you so much.

While a flight delay kept him from joining us this morning, I want to thank Senator Reed for inviting me to Rhode Island and for his remarkable leadership over the past two decades -- fighting to ensure that Rhode Island families have a safe, decent, and affordable place to call home.

He's been a critical voice for families -- authoring legislation to improve consumer disclosures on mortgages, helping us shift our national focus toward preventing homelessness, and leading the charge to create a National Affordable Housing Trust Fund.

And while the housing crisis has made it tougher, together, I'm confident we will get the Fund capitalized this year. We will find a way!

So it's truly an honor for me to be in Warwick today to announce $1.4 million in Recovery Act funding going to "green" the homes here at Shalom Housing.

For years, 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 vital 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 -- which we estimate has created or saved 8,000 jobs right here in the Ocean State.

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 $1.4 million in funding we're announcing today to green Shalom Housing is part of a $250 million effort to green 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 improvements, from windows and doors to solar panels and geothermal installation.

Here at Shalom Housing, this $1.4 million grant will help retrofit the building with high-efficiency boilers -- and the units with energy-efficient refrigerators and low-flush toilets.

Most exciting about this project, though, is the wind turbine that the management will be able to install, which is expected to generate enough power to provide for 80 percent of the buildings' electricity.

Thanks to the Recovery Act, Shalom Housing will be on the cutting edge when it comes to alternative energy production -- turning Rhode Island's strong coastal winds into a real asset.

For residents, the benefits are clear. These upgrades will not only help save our environment --they will help save money by cutting utility costs by over 20 percent.

Not only will they improve the health of our planet -- they will also improve the health of the elderly residents here at Shalom by using safer, greener paints and building materials like recycled tile and non-toxic cabinets.

Just as importantly, these funds will create good-paying green jobs right here in Warwick --jobs that can never be sent offshore. The kind of jobs Senator Reed fights for in Washington every day.

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.

Efforts like Shalom Housing illustrate that President Obama--and leaders like Senator Reed--are 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.

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


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