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Public Housing Environmental and Conservation Clearinghouse

Department of Energy Better Building Challenge

Last year, commercial and industrial buildings used roughly 50% of the energy in the U.S. economy at a cost of over $400 billion. These buildings and operations can be made much more efficient using a variety of cost effective efficiency improvements while creating jobs and building a stronger economy. We have similar opportunities in our homes. In February 2011, President Obama, building upon the investments of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, announced the Better Buildings Initiative to make commercial and industrial buildings 20% more energy efficient over the next 10 years and accelerate private sector investment in energy efficiency.

In 2013, the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) partnered to expand the Better Buildings Challenge to the multifamily residential sector.  As an incentive, Public Housing Authorities that sign on to become Better Building Challenge partners will receive one point towards future HUD NOFA’s.  To learn more, follow the link below.

Upgraded Utility Benchmarking Tool Available to PHAs

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has upgraded a free online utility benchmarking tool that can help you as a PHA identify what your properties’ energy use is, ultimately allowing you to determine how to reduce your energy and save on utilities. EPA’s tool, the Portfolio Manager, is a free, web-based benchmarking tool that allows users to monitor the water and energy consumption of the buildings in their portfolio.  With this tool, interested PHAs can track their weather-normalized utility consumption by month or year, allowing you to compare energy use between buildings, target improvements to reduce your energy consumption and costs, and determine the effectiveness of energy improvements.

PHAs who have used the tool and want to see the upgrades, can visit EPA’s upgrade page.

PHAs who are new to the tool, can get started here: Energy Star Benchmarking Starter Kit.

Energy is Everywhere

Dear Key Stakeholder: 

In October 2014, HUD and two of its Federal partners, the U.S. Departments of Energy and Education, launched a Webinar series entitled “Energy Is Everywhere!” The series is intended for Public Housing Authorities (PHAs), Resident Councils, ROSS and FSS Coordinators, and local partners to engage low-income and public housing communities across the US on issues and opportunities available in energy.

The Webinar series will be back on January 15, 2015.  The topic will be Mentoring in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math).  Participants will learn how to find STEM mentors, use mentors in their community, and access resources for mentees/mentors.

The webinar series is held the third Thursday of every month at 3 pm ET. Future topics include:

  • STEM Mentoring 1/15

Register Here:

  • Joining the Better Buildings Challenge 2/19

Register Here:

  • Engaging with your local Science or Technology Center
  • Internship Opportunities

To learn more about the webinars, find past recordings and resources, please follow the link below:

We ask that you forward this announcement to any staff and partner organizations who may be interested.  Questions about the Webinar can be addressed to  We look forward to your participation! 

Thank you.

Sustainable and Green Topics

[Image - Apartment]Energy Conservation

All Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) are required to implement HUD policies in support of National Energy Conservation goals by requiring PHAs to conduct energy audits and undertake certain cost effective energy conservation measures.  When cost effective and funding is available, PHAs should install energy conservation measures with the shortest paybacks periods first to help fund longer payback energy conservation measures.   

Smoke Free Public Housing
Since 2009,  the Office of Public and Indian Housing has encouraged PHAs to adopt smoke free housing policies in some or all of their buildings.  The elimination of second or third hand smoke that can migrate between multifamily units can be an important step towards improving the health of residents as well as reducing maintenance costs for PHAs.   

Click here to read the Press Release for "Smoke-free subsidized housing would save $521 million a year."


[Image - Mattress]Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
IPM focuses on pest prevention, eliminating sources and using less toxic materials to control pests such as bedbugs, cockroaches and ants.

Water Conservation

[Image - Water Droplet] Water conservation benchmarking is a very useful starting point for PHAs to target water saving opportunities and can help PHAs overall asset management strategy.

[Image - AC Unit] Operations & Maintenance
O&M includes all aspects of running a building over the course of its useful life. Because of the far-reaching nature of O&M, a well designed and properly executed program is critical to the overall success.

[Image - Eco friendly person with suitcase] PIH Green Initiative
The PIH Green Initiative is about spotlighting the latest topics related to the environmental movement known as "Going Green" This month's article is about Green Building.

[Image - Lead Paint] Hazardous Materials
Lead Threat Thrives: Years after poisoning, a Queensbury family still fearing its effects.

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Energy Stars and Green Giants
PHECC Newsletters
Additional Resources

Research and review more details about what HUD and other federal government agencies have available to further energy awareness

Past Events