HUD Releases Climate Action Plan
In November 2021, HUD released its new Climate Action Plan (CAP). The plan will guide the integration of climate resilience, decarbonization, and environmental justice into HUD’s core programs and policies. HUD plans to deploy the full capacity of the department to reduce GHG emissions and increase resilience to the impacts of climate change, while delivering on environmental justice and racial equity. Progress toward implementation of the 106 Climate Actions included in the plan will be tracked as part of HUD’s agency-wide Strategic Plan.
The Plan is organized around three overarching Climate Action Goals for programs and policies under HUD’s purview:
Goal 1: Increase Climate Resilience - Affordable housing is increasingly at risk from both extreme weather events and sea-level rise. HUD’s disaster recovery portfolio alone accounts for the Federal government’s single largest investment in recovery and resilience in LMI communities — to date, HUD has disbursed $90 billion in Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) grants. Through this plan, the Department aims to expand its climate resilience work to increase resources for grantees and stakeholders and make it easier for them to implement climate-resilient activities by:
- Collecting more and more complete building- and community-level climate risk data
- Researching the effectiveness of resilience measures and using the results to drive decision-making
- Incorporating climate-related financial risk into underwriting standards, loan terms and conditions, and asset management and servicing procedures
- Integrating resilience and environmental justice principles into the CDBG-DR program
- Strengthening flood resilience standards for all HUD-assisted or Federal Housing Administration (FHA)-insured projects
- Providing new and updated community resilience, sustainability and environmental justice training, and resources
Goal 2: Reduce GHG Emissions - HUD pays nearly $7 billion annually for utilities for its portfolio of public and assisted housing units (primarily through subsidizing virtually all property owner and tenant energy and water costs). This expenditure accounts for as much as 14 percent of the agency’s total budget. HUD aims to significantly improve the energy performance of HUD-assisted and FHA-insured assets while scaling up the deployment of renewable energy. HUD will accomplish this goal by increasing investments in climate and energy retrofits of existing housing, incentivizing green building design in new construction, and proactively advancing climate mitigation and adaptation strategies across HUD programs. HUD also aims to explore incentivizing or otherwise assisting communities to implement land-use changes that allow for denser, transit-oriented housing development that reduces households’ reliance on cars — by far the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector.
Goal 3: Pursue Environmental Justice - Addressing climate and environmental justice is at the core of HUD’s mission to create strong, sustainable, and inclusive communities. Environmental justice means ensuring equal protection from environmental and health hazards and providing equal and meaningful opportunity to participate in the decision-making process to achieve a healthy environment. In the CAP, HUD commits to a variety of actions to empower communities to achieve climate resilience, facilitate economic opportunities, and eliminate health risks caused by environmental injustices. HUD will strive to maximize investments in low-income communities, communities of color, and other disadvantaged and historically underserved communities.