Tag Archive for: Green building

HAC in the News

Groups Urge HUD and USDA to Finalize Efficiency Requirements for U.S.-Backed Homes

ACEEE, HAC, and Sierra Club logos

A federal proposal to ensure new homes supported by U.S.-backed mortgages and federal housing programs meet updated energy efficiency criteria garnered widespread support from stakeholders today. Groups advocating for affordable housingenergy efficiency, and climate mitigation united in urging the administration to finalize the action promptly.

The groups were joined by more than 6,000 individuals across the country who supported the proposal in public comments gathered by Sierra Club and submitted to regulators today.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Department of Agriculture (USDA) proposed updating their efficiency requirements in May by issuing a preliminary determination. If the action is finalized, future residents of the homes at issue compared to homes under the current criteria will save an estimated $14,500 for single-family homes and $6,000 per multifamily unit overall, net of costs, over the lifetime of the homes thanks to lower energy bills, HUD and USDA calculated. It would avert 2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions for each year of new homes, the agencies said.

Jonathan Harwitz, director of public policy at the Housing Assistance Council, said: “Keeping housing affordable includes making utility costs affordable. We encourage HUD and USDA to move forward with this determination, and also to find ways to help cover upfront costs and to educate those who finance and build affordable housing.”

Lowell Ungar, federal policy director at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, said: “The longer we build brand-new inefficient homes, the more needless energy costs and climate pollution we’ll see for decades ahead. Just by meeting their legal mandate, the agencies will help ensure tens of thousands of new homes have lower energy bills and less risk of spiking costs. The analysis is clear; now they need to act promptly to get the job done.”

Jessica Tritsch, building electrification campaign director at the Sierra Club, said: “Too often renters and folks in low-income housing are left behind from programs that offer energy efficient housing and lower utility bills. This move by HUD will help ensure better access to climate-friendly appliances and healthier, more affordable homes. Adopting these new energy efficiency building codes is long overdue. We are committed to holding HUD, and other federal and state agencies, accountable to help low-income homeowners and renters access clean, safe, energy efficient housing.”


In bipartisan laws in 1992 and 2007, Congress directed HUD and USDA to periodically strengthen efficiency criteria for new homes purchased with federally backed loans such as Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and USDA mortgages, along with new homes with funding from other HUD programs, like the HOME Investment Partnerships grants for affordable housing. These homes—about 200,000 new ones each year—are primarily for low- and moderate-income homeowners and renters.

These criteria follow a model building energy code known as the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) for single family houses and smaller multifamily buildings, and ASHRAE Standard 90.1 for high-rise multifamily buildings. The law requires HUD and USDA to update the criteria when the codes are updated every three years as long as the agencies determine that doing so would not negatively affect the availability or affordability of covered housing. But the regulators have not updated the criteria since 2015.

The agencies finally issued a preliminary determination for public comment in May for the 2021 IECC and Standard 90.1-2019 (the current requirements are the 2009 IECC and 90.1-2007). A provision in the omnibus spending bill enacted at the end of 2022 also requires the Department of Veterans Affairs to update its loan requirements based on the HUD-USDA criteria.

Houses and multifamily buildings meeting these criteria generally have more insulation in the walls and roofs, better air sealing and windows, and more energy-efficient systems, including better-sealed ducts. The homes waste less heat and allow more efficient heating and cooling with smaller HVAC systems.

Today is the final day for stakeholders to comment on the preliminary determination. When the agencies issue a final determination, they will implement the updated efficiency criteria in each covered program over a few months.

Media contacts:

ACEEE – Ben Somberg, 202-658-8129, bsomberg@aceee.org

HAC – Dan Stern, 202-516-6882, dan@ruralhome.org

Sierra Club – Shannon Van Hoesen, 202-604-2464, shannon.vanhoesen@sierraclub.org

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), a nonprofit research organization, develops policies to reduce energy waste and combat climate change. Its independent analysis advances investments, programs, and behaviors that use energy more effectively and help build an equitable clean energy future.

The Housing Assistance Council (HAC) is a national nonprofit that supports affordable housing efforts throughout rural America. Since 1971, HAC has provided below-market financing for affordable housing and community development, technical assistance and training, research and information, and policy formulation to enable solutions for rural communities.

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with millions of members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person’s right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action.

Policy News field

HAC Submits Comments on the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund

HAC submitted comments in response to the October 21, 2022 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GHGRF) published by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). GHGRF is a new program created by the Inflation Reduction Act and will be administered by EPA. This first-of-its-kind program will provide $27 billion in competitive grants to mobilize financing and leverage private capital for clean energy and climate projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, with an emphasis on projects that benefit low-income and disadvantaged communities. A wide range of activities, including those related to housing, could qualify for GHGRF.

GHGRF funds are divided into three pools. There are $7 billion for competitive grants to enable low-income and disadvantaged communities to deploy or benefit from zero-emission technologies, including distributed technologies on residential rooftops. Nearly $12 billion will be used for competitive grants to eligible entities to provide financial and technical assistance to projects that reduce or avoid greenhouse gas emissions. Another $8 billion is for competitive grants to eligible entities to provide financial and technical assistance to projects that reduce or avoid greenhouse gas emissions in low-income and disadvantaged communities.

HAC’s comments focused on four main points.

Key Takeaways

  1. Leverage the extensive existing network of CDFIs to ensure rapid, equitable, and widespread investment.
  2. Address the unique needs of rural and persistent poverty communities.
  3. Recognize the key role of housing assistance in meeting GHGRF’s goals.
  4. Include equity principles in all elements of the GHGRF program design.

To learn more about HAC’s full recommendations, read our full comment letter.



CIRD: Models and Practices for Meaningful Community Engagement


Community Engagement Resource Guide

Resource Guide - Community Engagement


What does meaningful community engagement work look like for your rural community? In this webinar you will have a chance to share your best engagement strategies and learn new ways to strengthen your community engaged design work. We’ll also talk about engagement in the context of COVID-19, and building greater inclusivity with community members whose identities differ from our own. This webinar will be facilitated by Jamie Horter, a Nebraska-based rural artist working in community engaged art.



Rural communities including town councils, economic development groups, municipalities, designers, community-based organizations, and other community development practitioners interested in design methods for community engagement.

Prior Knowledge

None required.

Learning Objectives

  1. Learn about 3 different models for planning your community engaged design work
  2. Share practices for more inclusive and accessible participation, including creative virtual hosting options and outreach across diverse identities
  3. Create a shared resource from your best engagement practices


Jamie Horter
Art for Rural People

Jamie Horter is a rural advocate, small town artist, and community coach based out of Lyons, NE (pop. 850). She works primarily in rural places and believes in the power of art to shape and enhance quality of life in rural communities. She created her first public work at the age of 10 when she was commissioned to paint a mural in her hometown school. Then and now, her works are community centered, often engaging rural citizens in the design process as co-creators. Jamie uses art to create opportunities for everyday citizens to become more engaged in the conversations and decisions impacting their communities. Her work brings community members into discussions and actions around citizen-led community development.

Additional Information

This webinar will be presented via Microsoft Teams.  For technical information please visit https://ruralhome.microsoftcrmportals.com/TrainingMicrosoftTeams/.

View HAC’s General Training Terms and Conditions at https://ruralhome.microsoftcrmportals.com/TrainingWebinarTermsAndConditions/.

HAC Training - Construction Oriented

“Build Smart” Webinar Series Part 1: Green Building Case Studies



PowerPoint Presentation | Green Pyramid | St. John’s Housing Partnership Green Building Summary | Affordable Housing Low-Cost Green Items | Florida Green Building Coalition Green Checklist | Webinar Transcript


This webinar, the first in a series designed to share innovative solutions to affordable housing developers dealing with escalating prices and implementing additional regulations, will kick off the series to address ‘Green Building’ design. As we acknowledge the outcome benefits the environment and occupants, implementing green building design costs can be challenging to the non-profit organization’s budget and goal to produce affordably-priced housing.   This can be even more difficult in rural areas where materials and resources may not be readily available.  Presenters will showcase several projects that are successfully implementing Green Building practices into their affordable housing developments and share their best practices for green building on a budget and constructing net zero energy homes for low-income buyers, that can be replicated by all affordable housing developers to reduce costs.



This webinar is intended for non-profit housing developers, small affordable housing builders, Tribal entities, rural government entities

Prior Knowledge

Basic knowledge and awareness of Construction/ Green Building.

Learning Objectives

This webinar series will provide affordable housing developers with the information needed to successfully and financially implement green building design into their construction program.

  1. Learn the basics of Green Building design.
  2. Discover funding mechanisms and resources used in implementation of   Green Building design.

Learn from mistakes and successes of past green building projects.


Bill Lazar
St. Johns Housing Partnership

Bill Lazar is the Executive Director of St. Johns Housing Partnership and a licensed residential contractor. For 32 years, he has worked with affordable housing programs in NE Florida. The Partnership provides a variety of housing services from home repairs and new construction (rental and homeownership) to credit counseling and foreclosure prevention. The SJHP owns and manages 65 scattered site rental properties in addition to owning 2 USDA multi-family properties for seniors. He has been a board member with the St Johns Builders Council for over 22 years and is a strong advocate for green building and high school and vocational trades programs.

Most recently he was recognized as Builder of the Year by the St Johns Builders Council.

Mr. Larzar will present on Case study Name of Project:  Green Building on a Budget


Michael Morina
Florida Home Partnership

Michael (Mike) Morina attended the College of William and Mary, where he earned a B.A. in Economics. He also earned a master’s degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology in City Planning.  Mr. Morina began his professional career as a research analyst for the Urban Land Institute in Washington, D.C.

After spending 12 years in commercial real estate development, he founded the Alliance for Affordable Housing, a 501 c (3) corporation that developed master-planned subdivisions, built new homes, and processed first time homebuyer loans throughout the greater Tampa Bay area to include the Counties of Hillsborough, Pasco, Manatee and Sarasota.

Mr. Morina brings over 35 years of experience in all facets of affordable housing and was hired as the executive director of FHP on April 2, 2018.

Mr. Morina will present Case Study 2. Name of Project: Net Zero Energy Homes for Low-income Buyers”


Additional Information

This webinar will be presented via Microsoft Teams.  For technical information please visit https://ruralhome.microsoftcrmportals.com/TrainingMicrosoftTeams/.

View HAC’s General Training Terms and Conditions at https://ruralhome.microsoftcrmportals.com/TrainingWebinarTermsAndConditions/.

HAC Training - Construction Oriented

WaterSense Labeled Homes Version 2.0



PowerPoint Presentation | Webinar Transcript


The WaterSense Labeled Homes program offers a building science approach on water efficiency within single and multi-family homes.

Green building has grown from a niche market to a savvy business strategy. WaterSense labeled homes meet consumers’ demand for a whole-house solution to help them save water, energy, and money while maintaining a high level of performance. Compared to a typical home, on average, a WaterSense labeled home can save a family 50,000 gallons of water a year or more.

This webinar will provide the specifics of how WaterSense labeled homes must achieve at least 30 percent more water efficiency than typical new construction. Under the Homes Certification System, they are verified and certified to meet EPA’s Mandatory Checklist and achieve EPA’s water efficiency criteria. We will discuss the program’s new flexibilities and participation by new stakeholder groups such as Home Certification Organizations (HCO) which uses its own WaterSense Approved Certification Method (WACM) to measure water efficiency. We will also discuss the new flexibilities in the technical requirements expanding from options of indoor water efficiency to regionally appropriate outdoor water efficient systems and practices and how when paired with the mandatory checklist, the requirements of the WACM ensure that a WaterSense labeled home is both water-efficient, and high-performing.


This webinar is intended for builders, designers and any others interested in increasing water efficiency within the residential sector.

Prior Knowledge

Understanding of green building practices and the process of certification may be useful but not necessary.

Learning Objectives

  • Learning Objective 1: Learn about the added flexibility in certification
  • Learning Objective 2: Understand Mandatory requirements
  • Learning Objective 3: Identify opportunities for regional differentiation and national flexibility.
  • Learning Objective 4: Learn about best practices and how they can impact water savings.


Olga M. Cano

Olga M. Cano
Environmental Engineer in the Homes Program
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) WaterSense® Program

Additional Information

This webinar will be presented via Microsoft Teams.  For technical information please visit https://ruralhome.microsoftcrmportals.com/TrainingMicrosoftTeams/.

View HAC’s General Training Terms and Conditions at https://ruralhome.microsoftcrmportals.com/TrainingWebinarTermsAndConditions/.

Strategies for Achieving Energy Efficient, Affordable Housing

Watch the Webinar Recording

Additional Materials

PowerPoint Presentation Webinar Transcript

According to the Energy Information Administration, nearly one-third of households experience some type of energy insecurity over the course of a year. Energy insecurity describes the interplay of the physical conditions of housing, household energy expenditures and energy-related coping strategies. It disproportionately impacts low-income households as they pay higher proportions of their income to electric and gas bills and will often set thermostats to unsafe levels to reduce energy costs.

This is why energy efficient construction practices are so important for providing safe, comfortable and cost-effective housing options. Come to this webinar to gain insight into energy efficient construction practices, including how to maximize energy efficiency while keeping costs in check. Learn the role of Home Energy Raters in the design and construction process and see the specifications for homes that are achieving varying levels of energy efficiency. Finally, you will see what it takes to achieve a net-zero home—one that produces as much energy as it uses on an annual basis.




Ryan MeresRyan Meres

Program Director

Rural Voices: Innovation in Building Technology for Affordable Rural Housing

Building decent, affordable housing for the lowest-income rural Americans requires creativity – in financing, design, planning, and even in administering organizations. This issue of Rural Voices is meant to provide helpful examples for the field, and we encourage readers to share other innovations as well.


Small Size, Big Results: Tiny Houses in Hale County, Alabama
by Pam Dorr

Tiny homes, from 400 to 850 square feet, can provide decent, affordable homes for rural Americans with very low incomes, while blending beautifully into existing communities.

Cargo Containers Become Simple, Decent, Affordable and Energy-Efficient Homes…It’s Happening in Kentucky
by Mary Shearer

Abandoned cargo containers are converted to highly energy-efficient, simple homes for extremely low-income Kentuckians.

Kicking and Screaming All the Way to Greater Energy Efficiency
by Patrick Shiflea

After hesitating to adopt new construction techniques and add costs, Alaska CDC staff have concluded increased energy efficiency is worth it for homeowners.

Factory-Built Housing as an Affordable Housing Solution
by Stacey Epperson

Modern manufactured and modular housing options can serve as an affordable alternative to site-built structures.

From Tornado to Sustainable Community in Saint Peter, Minnesota
by Rick Goodemann

After a major disaster, intensive planning and community-wide innovation produced new affordable housing as well as improved electricity and broadband service.

The Basics of Process Improvement for Affordable Housing Organizations
by Josh Crites

New ideas that improve project management can pave the way to an efficient and organized affordable housing process.

View from Washington

Doubling Down in a Time of Uncertainty
by Ellen Lurie Hoffman and Michael Bodaken

As advocates for affordable housing face the uncertainties of a new Administration, it is clear that our work and our partnerships have never been more essential.

Rural Voices would like to hear what you have to say about one, or all, of these issues. Please feel free to comment on this story by sending a tweet to #RuralVoicesMag, discuss on the Rural Affordable Housing Group on LinkedIn, or on our Facebook page.

MATERIALS POSTED: Practitioner’s Guide to Meeting Energy Star 3.0 – HVAC Part A.

MATERIALS POSTED: Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) System Contractors Checklist

Power Point Presentation | Webinar Recording | Additional Resources

Follow the discussion online #ruralgreen.

Please join us for Practitioner’s Guide to Meeting Energy Star 3.0 – HVAC Part A on 5/20/2015 2:00 PM Eastern Time.

MATERIALS POSTED: Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) System Contractors Checklist

Power Point Presentation | Webinar Recording | Additional Resources

Follow the discussion online #ruralgreen.

Please join us for Practitioner’s Guide to Meeting Energy Star 3.0 – HVAC Part A on 5/20/2015 2:00 PM Eastern Time.

All homes permitted after January 1, 2012 seeking ENERGY STAR Version 3.0 rating must meet ENERGY STAR Version 3.0 standards. Verification partners, including HERS raters and Field Inspectors, must complete ENERGY STAR Version 3 Rater Training through an Accredited Training Provider in order to service and/or inspect homes that seek ENERGY STAR Version 3.0 rating. There are two paths to certify a home to earn the ENERGY STAR. The Prescriptive Path is based on a predefined package of improvements, while the Performance Path is based on a customized package of upgrades. The National Program Requirements define the core energy efficiency specifications for both the Prescriptive and Performance Paths.

Both the Performance and Prescriptive Paths require completion of four inspection checklists:

  • Heating and Cooling Contractor Checklist,
  • Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) System Quality Installation Rater Checklist,
  • HVAC System Quality Installation Contractor Checklist, and
  • Water Management System Builder Checklist

A quality installs HVAC system promotes improved comfort, indoor air quality, and durability in certified homes. This webinar provides an overview of the HVAC Contractor checklist and its requirements as prescribed the Energy Star and ICCE 2009. Topics covered will include:

  • ACCA Manuals J, S, and D
  • HVAC System Contractor Checklist


Additional Resources
  1. Thermal Enclosure System Rater Checklist Guidebook (.pdf)
  2. ACCA Manuals J, S, and D
  3. www.resnet.us/energystar
  4. www.energystar.gov
  5. www.epa.gov/watersense
  6. www.usgbc.org
  7. greenhomeguide.com/program/leed-for-homes
  8. youtu.be/czlCDo00Scs

Funded by: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and U.S. Department of Agriculture – Rural Development

Conducting Homeless Counts on Native American Lands – Webinar

To have an event posted on our calendar*, please e-mail Dan Stern. Or send event description or brochure to:

Housing Assistance Council
Attn: Dan Stern
1025 Vermont Avenue, NW
Suite 606
Washington, DC 20005

Or fax to (202) 347-3441
Attn: Dan Stern


*Calendar Posting Guidelines:

HAC’s calendar posts announcements about periodic conferences, training sessions, audioconferences, and the like. Topics must be relevant to professionals in the rural housing and community development arena. HAC reserves the right to accept or decline any request to post an item. We do not include sessions provided by entities (for-profit or nonprofit) that offer numerous regularly scheduled training events; links to such entities are provided below.

Community Connections

HUD Calendar
Novogradac and Compan

Back to Trainings

Conducting Homeless Counts on Native American Lands

Date: March 13, 2012
Time: 2:00 – 3:00 PM Eastern
Registration: https://cc.readytalk.com/cc/s/registrations/new?cid=9kowvf25jgfy

The Housing Assistance Council (HAC) is pleased to invite you to a webinar highlighting its recent publication Conducting Homeless Counts on Native American Lands: A Toolkit. It is often difficult to address homelessness on Native American lands, due to the challenge in quantifying the number of actual homeless individuals living therein. While there is ‘literal’ homelessness on Native American lands, many Native Americans also live in extremely crowded conditions with family and relatives which is another, less visible, form of homelessness. Places with small, spread-out populations, like most Native American lands, typically have few shelters or service providers forcing homeless individuals to rely on strong kinship networks to find a place to stay. Issues surrounding tribal mistrust of the federal government, a lack of understanding of tribal sovereignty and diversity among Indian nations by outside entities, cultural competencies, and legal complexities associated with tribal lands create additional challenges to conducting an accurate count.

Based upon past research as well as interviews with key stakeholders in the field, the webinar will provide insights on how to conduct outreach, plan homeless surveys, partner with other researchers and organizations, and secure funding.

For more information, please email Eric Oberdorfer at eric@ruralhome.org.

Register Now!

Tag Archive for: Green building

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