Prepared Remarks of Secretary Shaun Donovan at a Baltimore Green Retrofit Event

Poppleton Phase II Apartments, Baltimore, MD
Friday, January 28, 2011

Thank you, Mayor Rawlings-Blake, for that kind introduction and for your remarkable leadership of this city.

I'd also like to thank Secretary Ray Skinner for working so hard to ensure that all Marylanders have access to safe, decent, and affordable housing.

Thanks to Senator Cardin for his leadership.

And thank you, Congressman Cummings, for your outstanding work on behalf of Baltimore's families. 

Indeed, most of you probably know that Congressman Cummings has been a champion of issues that affect working families. He's worked hard in Maryland's communities to make sure that families facing the risk of foreclosure have every chance of keeping their homes.

So it's a particular honor for me to stand alongside Congressman Cummings today, as we celebrate the Obama Administration's work to help 111 families in the Poppleton apartments see the benefits of a $1.5 million green retrofit awards funded by the Recovery Act.

We all heard what President Obama said Tuesday night about the need to "win the future" -- to spark American innovation and strengthen our competitiveness around the globe by investing in the foundations of the 21st century American economy.

As the President said, one of those foundations must be clean, renewable energy, as we move away from dependence on foreign oil. That's why President Obama committed America to a new clean energy standard -- a standard that will have 80 percent of America's electricity coming from clean energy sources by 2035.

With a new clean energy standard, we won't just see lower energy costs and a healthier environment -- the promise of clean energy jobs will be realized in communities across the country. And one of the ways we are going to meet that standard is by greening America's housing.

After all, 40 percent of carbon emissions come from our buildings -- more than the transportation sector. About half of that comes from our nation's homes.   

And as the President made clear in his State of the Union address, green jobs are part of the future of the American economy -- to not only rebuilding America, but to competing with the likes of China and India.

Green construction already supports more than 2 million jobs and generates more than $100 billion in GDP and wages.

Over the next four years, the green building industry will support nearly 8 million jobs and generate more than a half trillion dollars in economic activity.

That's why of the nearly $14 billion in Recovery Act funds HUD has provided to communities across the country, nearly a third can be used for "greening" America's public and assisted housing stock.

The $1.5 million in funding provided to green the Poppleton Apartments is part of a quarter-billion dollar effort to green HUD-assisted affordable housing across the country.

Thus far, we've greening 245,000 homes with a range of energy improvements -- and thousands more newly constructed homes are being built to green standards.

The Green Retrofit Program is creating thousands of green jobs as workers retrofit older apartment developments with the next generation of energy efficient technologies -- helping cut utility costs by installing more efficient heating, cooling and water systems.

Here at Poppleton, this funding will help install new, high-efficiency heating and air conditioning systems for 86 rehabbed units.

And I know that behind me, you can see that the building's windows have been knocked out. I'm proud to say that they're being replaced with energy efficient, double-pane windows that will provide better insulation for the residents of these apartments.

All that work is in addition to the 25 new units that are being built to green standards for Baltimore families.

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

Best of all, this program will create 180 good-paying green jobs right here in Baltimore. Jobs that can't be sent offshore. 

Between programs like these and policies like President Obama's tax cut package that extends, through the end of the year, tax credits of up to $2,000 to builders for constructing energy efficient homes, we're making a historic investment in clean energy.

That's because when we invest in clean energy, we're creating a new generation of professionals, ready to build, install, repair and maintain these technologies, from mechanics and electricians to plumbers and construction workers.

And with these apartments right next to the University of Maryland's BioPark, this neighborhood can be a model for the type of innovation and education the President identified as the future of this country.

Indeed, this funding represents something President Obama made very clear on Tuesday night -- that clean energy investments will "strengthen our security, protect our planet, and create countless new jobs for our people."

It reflects the President's belief that innovation is the key to the 21st century economy -- and the key to producing jobs right here in America, instead of overseas.

And it reflects a truth that Congressman Cummings, Mayor Rawlings-Blake, President Obama and I understand -- a truth all of you understand…

That winning the future begins at home. 

That's why I'm so very glad to join you all today. Now I'd like to turn things over to a champion for Baltimore's working families, Congressman Elijah.


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