What is the fundamental issue?
The federal government has established several voluntary policies and programs that encourage energy efficiency. The federal government may also move forward with policies and programs to limit U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases to address a changing climate. Some of these policies, programs and regulations may impact the built environment, including commercial and residential properties, by:(1) mandating energy use disclosures, audits or improvements at the time of sale; or (2) increasing the costs of energy for homes and commercial buildings.
I am a real estate professional. What does this mean for my business?
If energy efficiency were federally mandated, property owners’ ability to sell their home or building could be at risk without first having to conduct energy audits and improve its heating and cooling system, windows, insulation and/or lighting. Also, older homes that do not meet adequate energy efficiency requirements or score poorly on energy use assessments may lose value compared to newer, more efficient homes. If energy becomes more expensive, that could undermine the ability of a homeowner or prospective buyer to purchase and maintain a home, as well as impact the profitability of a commercial building.
NAR supports improving energy efficiency through voluntary incentives, commercially reasonable approaches and education in lieu of individual building mandates. The Association's policy opposes applying existing laws/regulations that are not designed for global climate change to try to address these issues; provisions that impose undue economic burdens on property owners or managers; or triggering such requirements at the time when real property is sold.
The Department of Energy (DOE) has completed development of a voluntary Home Energy Performance Score and has made it available to consumers on the department's website.
NAR has communicated with Congress, the White House and various federal agencies to reinforce our strong concerns about how these kinds of energy use labels place older properties at a competitive disadvantage, compared to newer, more efficient properties. NAR continues to have concerns about the potential for misuse of such information in the transaction and will continue to raise these concerns and work with the Administration to ensure that the information will be used appropriately and not hinder the sale of older properties.
Although Congress did not pass any comprehensive energy policy reform bill in the last Congress, key members have indicated that they will be exploring opportunities to move forward similar legislation in this Congress, which could include provisions that relate to the real estate sector, such as:
- Encouraging the GSEs and the FHA to include energy efficiency improvements in the loan underwriting and appraisal process;
- Creating a rebate program for home energy efficiency improvements; and
- A voluntary program that would help property owners incorporate energy efficiency improvements into the mortgage underwriting process.
Land Use, Property Rights and Environment Committee