From void into vision, from vision to mind, from mind into speech, from speech to the tribe, from the tribe into din.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

What I Read in the Green New Deal for Public Housing Bill

The Green New Deal for Public Housing Act (these comments come from the draft but the actual bill has now been filed at is the first binding legislation drafted.  It will reconstruct "the entire public housing stock of the United States, as swiftly and seamlessly as possible,” into zero-carbon homes, "a highly energy-efficient home that produces on-site, or procures, enough carbon-free renewable energy to meet the total annual energy consumption of the home” within a decade.

Public housing stock will be eligible for deep energy retrofits, including 
energy-efficient windows; 
super insulation of roofs and exterior walls, including the addition of new cladding to buildings and the rerouting of plumbing and electricity; 
electrification of water heating and building heating systems using electric heat pumps; 
and electric heat pumps to provide air conditioning, where feasible; 
materials and technology to increase airtightness of the building envelope, including air sealant paints; the acquisition and installation of heat-recovery ventilation systems; 
and energy monitoring devices including smart meters and smart thermostats.  

There will be grants "to build and expand community energy generation in public housing, including 
the construction of and ongoing costs associated with renewable energy rooftops; 
renewable energy generation; 
photovoltaic glass windows; 
the bulk purchase of clean energy supply from energy utilities; 
and community-scale energy storage."

What the bill is calling a zero carbon home is also known as zero net energy housing or, more commonly, net zero energy buildings, structures which produce as much energy as they consume and such buildings have been built in just about every Earthly climate, from the Arctic Circle to the South Pole;  at single family and skyscraper scales;  at low, moderate, and luxury prices.  I’ve been collecting examples of Zero Net Energy buildings and technologies for years at if you want to see what is operating now, is being built, and some of the design visions for the future.  CA is already transitioning to a net zero energy building standard for all low-rise residential buildings now (2020) and the EU is moving to a “near net zero” standard now too.  Both will have a net or near net zero building standard for all buildings, including rehab, by 2030.

There are positive net energy buildings as well (see

In 1979 Jimmy Carter’s energy plan called for insulating 90% of American homes and all new buildings and use solar energy in more than 2.5 million homes by 1985. There were 1.3 million solar installations in the USA in 2017 by one count and may be 1.9 million in 2019 by another.  The DOE is predicting there will be 3.8 million solar homes by 2020.

Carter also wanted "20% of our energy coming from solar power by the year 2000."  Renewables, wind, solar and hydro, are at just about that level now, 20 years behind his schedule.

Carter was thinking in terms of his next four years in office. Extinction Rebellion is demanding that “Government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.”  The Green New Deal has a 10 year timeframe.

Jimmy Carter in 1979 was more ambitious than we are now. 

The Green New Deal for Public Housing also provides for community resilience centers, "a communal space in public housing that is used as a cooling center, heating center, or disaster relief center during extreme weather.”  This fits in with the idea of emergency preparedness, civil defense, no matter what the opinion of climate change.  After all, Solar IS Civil Defense (and entry level electricity for the billion or so people in this world who don’t yet have access to minimal electricity for light, communications, and other things.  See Personal Power Production:  Solar from Civil Defense to Swadeshi ( for more on these concepts and Personal Power Set ( for a look at current available technologies.

Community resilience measures include a "grant program to help provide the purchase and installation of energy storage, including batteries, flywheels, compressed air, and pumped hydroelectric or thermal energy storage, in order to ensure energy backup of not less than 48 hours in the event of an emergency or disaster;  the construction of childcare centers and ongoing costs associated with childcare centers;  the construction of senior centers and ongoing costs associated with senior centers;  the construction of community gardens and ongoing costs associated with community gardens.”

This will allow public housing to become islanding microgrids, housing that can power themselves when the grid goes down.  Grid interconnection will also allow public housing to feed energy back into the grid and offset costs.

The Green New Deal for Public Housing Act also authorizes the "training and development of skills necessary for career development in the fields, trades, and services reasonably determined during the first public comment period held in accordance with subsection (b)(3) to be of interest to public housing residents,” at a wage of $15  per hour with "stipends valued at not less than $250 per week to individuals participating in the workforce development program.”

Using the reconstruction of the USA's public housing as a job development program in energy efficiency and renewable power is supported by the results of the 2019 US Energy and Employment Report [USEER]* which found that there are currently more clean energy jobs available than workers to fill them.  The lack of trained people was highlighted by virtually all surveyed sectors as a growing problem with lack of experience, training, and technical skills almost universally cited as the top reason for hiring difficulty by employers. The need for technical training and certifications was also frequently cited, implying the need for expanded investments in workforce training and closer coordination between employers and the workforce training system.

US Energy and Employment Report [USEER]*  also found that energy efficiency has the most overall growth and potential for jobs.  It is about 41% of energy sector jobs now.  More than 1 out of 6, 17% of all USA construction jobs are in energy efficiency.  E2 [Environmental Entrepreneurs] ( has an Energy Efficiency Jobs in America report that goes deeper into this subject (  Cities like Boston have found that energy efficiency retrofits, electrification of existing residential buildings, and improved transportation are the most impactful strategies for reducing carbon emissions (
*Summary of the report at
Full report at
Webinar at
More at

There are 3.3 million clean energy jobs
2.3 million in energy efficiency
508,000 renewable energy
254,000 clean vehicles
139,000 grid and storage
38,000 clean fuels

The Green New Deal for Public Housing Act requires biannual reports
"on the impact that the grant programs established under subsection (a) have had on—
(1) the rehabilitation, upgrades, innovation, and transition of public housing in the United States;
(2) total greenhouse gas emission output, and quarterly data on greenhouse gas emission reductions from individual public housing developments, specifically as they relate to—
(A) home energy carbon pollution emissions in each public housing development, as calculated using the Carbon Footprint Calculator from the Environmental Protection Agency;
(B) waste-related carbon emissions in each public housing development, as calculated using the Carbon Footprint Calculator from the Environmental Protection Agency; and
(C) total greenhouse gas emissions released by individual public housing buildings and homes within a public housing development, as calculated using the Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator from the Environmental Protection Agency;
(3) the amount of Federal money saved due to energy cost savings at public housing projects, on a quarterly basis;
(4) the amount of energy savings per KwH at each public housing project, on a quarterly basis;
(5) public housing residents, including—
(A) access to economic opportunities through compliance with the hiring and contracting requirements described in subsections (c) and (d) of section 3 of the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1968 (12 U.S.C. 1701u);
(B) the impacts, if any, those residents have experienced to their individual economic growth as measured by individual and household income;
(C) the specific career skills acquired;
(D) the impacts, if any, those residents have experienced to their overall health; and
(E) the specific educational or technical certifications acquired; and
(6) changes to the overall community health indicators in public housing developments and their surrounding neighborhoods, including asthma rates, air quality, water quality, and levels of lead and mold.”

"Before the start of the second fiscal year beginning after the date of enactment of the Green New Deal for Public Housing Act, and quarterly thereafter, the Secretary shall require each public housing agency to monitor, measure, and report to the Secretary on the economic impacts of this section on the community in which housing developments of the public housing agency are located, including

‘‘(A) the aggregate dollar amount of contracts awarded in compliance with this section; 
(B) the aggregate dollar amount of wages and salaries paid for positions employed by low- and very low-income persons in accordance with this section;
(C) the aggregate dollar amount expended for training opportunities provided to low- and very low-income persons in accordance with this section; and
(D) the aggregate dollar amount expended for training and assisting public housing resident-owned businesses for compliance with this section."
The Green New Deal for Public Housing Act guarantees "the right to housing for every individual… all housing in the United States is habitable, highly energy-efficient, and safe; and… that the Federal Government should act and build new public housing where there is a serious need that the free market cannot address or is not addressing responsibly.’’

Most, if not all. of the Green New Deal for Public Housing necessitates "SEC. 10. REPEAL OF FAIRCLOTH AMENDMENT. Section 9(g) of the United States Housing Act of 1937 (42 U.S.C. 1437g(g)) is amended by striking paragraph (3), Faircloth Amendment which forbids HUD to "fund the construction or operation of new public housing units with Capital or Operating Funds if the construction of those units would result in a net increase in the number of units the PHA owned, assisted or operated as of October 1, 1999."
Faircloth Amendment - HUD