What Is HOPE for HOMES and Why Is It Important? | Energy Circle

What Is HOPE for HOMES and Why Is It Important?

On a recent Webinar Wednesday, Energy Circle hosted Kara Saul Rinaldi, VP of Government Affairs at the Building Performance Association (BPA) to discuss the HOPE for HOMES Act, and to learn how the legislation, if passed, could support progress in our industry for years into the future.

We don't often discuss legislation or what's going on in Washington. However, when government or political initiatives could impact the Better Building Industry and the companies we serve, we’re glad to dedicate some time to exploring those possibilities, and learning more about what we can do to support the causes that will benefit our community.

We learned a lot from the conversation between Energy Circle Founder and CEO Peter Troast and Kara Saul Rinaldi during the An Update on the Hope for Homes Legislation webinar, and are excited to dive into greater detail today, as well as share some even more recent news about the proposed legislation.

What Is the HOPE for HOMES Legislation?

HOPE for HOMES is a bipartisan bill introduced in 2020 and reintroduced in 2021 to both the House and the Senate. The Building Performance Association is advocating for its inclusion in any federal infrastructure package because it “offers multiple approaches to help upgrade homes and multifamily buildings while offering support for contractor training and incentives for energy efficiency upgrades.” The legislation has support from leading representatives on both sides of the aisle, and was included in President Biden’s budget request, FY22.

How Does HOPE for HOMES Affect Contractors?

The HOPE for HOMES initiative is designed to help contractors by funding technical career and business training. Because the $500 million initiative would improve access to education through online training, contractors would be able to learn just as much from the heart of a metropolitan area as they could in a more rural locale.

According to Kara, the money from this legislation could provide a contractor up to $10,000 to train employees, which could cover everything from accessing computers to paying for the training itself, as well as supporting small contracting businesses overall with marketing, accounting, and other business-related training to improve their business practices.

The BPA recognizes that the small businesses building and upholding our country’s infrastructure deserve and would greatly benefit from support, so they are working to show legislators how this bill would help contractors and small businesses in the home performance industry grow.

Increasing contractors’ profitability and capacity to address the low efficiency of American buildings is a key component of the fight against climate change. 

Another benefit for home contractors is the likely boost of public interest in home efficiency upgrades. The HOPE for HOMES Act of 2021 would create rebates to help homeowners invest in energy efficiency improvements, including:

  • $800 for adding residential insulation

  • $1,500 for adding insulation and replacing part of their home’s HVAC system

  • $2,000 for retrofits that generate savings of 20-40% of whole-house energy use

  • $4,000 for retrofits that generate savings of at least 40% of whole-house energy use

  • Doubling the amount of the rebate for moderate income families

Where Does the HOPE for HOMES Legislation Stand?

While this bill isn’t controversial—it has support from both sides of the aisle—it is expensive. Furthermore, the government has been investing more in American buildings in recent years than ever before. Despite how essential this investment in the infrastructure is, some lawmakers feel it’s a lot to ask for when the country is dealing with a deficit that expanded during the pandemic.

However, on the afternoon of May 28, President Biden released his Presidential Budget Request for FY22. In an unusual show of support for a proposal that has not yet been authorized, the President incorporated HOPE for HOMES into FY22. 

This alone functions both as a huge endorsement of the legislation. The bill was also noted as a component of the American Jobs Plan and starred for additional funding over the next 5 to 10 years. Though there are no guarantees in politics, this is certainly a good sign for our industry, and this major milestone can be celebrated as a sign of awareness and investment on the part of the Biden administration.

Now is a seminal time for us to address the poor condition of both our infrastructure and our climate. Making improvements comes down to money, and it’s hard to push for this kind of stimulus in a way that’s sensitive to the needs of all states. The bottom line? This work needs to be a priority.

Policy makers trust the perspectives of contractors because they are knowledgeable, well-informed constituents. As a result, contractor feedback bears a level of credibility that cuts through Washington politics pretty quickly. Continuing support from business owners, contractors, and community members is essential to the future success of this legislation. 

How Can You Show Support?

Go to the Building Performance Association website to take action. Sign BPA’s pre-written petitions to support all bills related to HOPE for HOMES to tell your representatives that you want to be a part of this movement. For bonus impact, reach out to your legislators to advocate for this legislation and make it clear how much of an effect this funding would have on your business and your community.

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