In order to foster and encourage local innovation, we will create an unprecedented partnership across federal agencies and provide resources and tools to help communities realize their own visions for building more livable, walkable, environmentally sustainable regions.
In addition, the office will help contribute to building a new clean energy economy by working with other federal agencies, states and local communities, and industry partners to catalyze innovation and develop strategies to reduce energy consumption in the residential sector. These innovations will help create new green jobs, spur economic growth, and assist regions to become more competitive on a national and global scale.
There are two main areas of operation that work together to comprise the Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities: the Sustainable Communities Initiative and the Energy Innovation Fund.
The objective of the Sustainable Communities Initiative is to stimulate more integrated and sophisticated regional planning to guide state, metropolitan, and local investments in land use, transportation and housing, as well as to challenge localities to undertake zoning and land use reforms. This Initiative has four main tasks.
First, the office partners with our counterparts in the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to offer Sustainable Communities Planning Grants.
Through this partnership we seek to catalyze a new generation of integrated metropolitan transportation, housing, land use and energy planning, using state of the art data, analytic tools and Geographic Information Systems. Second, the Initiative funds Sustainable Communities Challenge Grants to provide a local complement to the regional planning initiative, enabling multi-jurisdictional partnerships to establish policies, codes, tools and critical capital investments needed to achieve sustainable and inclusive development. Third, the Initiative supports capacity-building and a clearinghouse designed to support both grant recipients, as well as other communities interested in implementing sustainable community strategies. Finally, the Initiative provides funding for a joint HUD-DOT-EPA research effort designed to advance transportation and housing linkages on a number of levels.
The objective of the Energy Innovation Fund is to catalyze innovations in the residential energy efficiency sector that have promise of replicability and help create a standardized home energy efficient retrofit market. The office partners with the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) to test, and where feasible bring to scale, new and innovative products such as energy efficient and location efficient mortgages. A Multifamily Energy Pilot will increase energy efficiency in the multifamily housing market. An Energy Efficient Mortgage Innovation pilot program is intended to make it easier and less expensive for homebuyers and existing homeowners to finance energy improvements, as well as to utilize improved home energy rating tools that will provide better information on home energy costs for consumers when buying or renting a home, or refinancing an existing mortgage.
In addition, the office collaborates with HUD program offices, DOE and EPA to develop strategies to reduce energy consumption in public and assisted housing some 5 million units of affordable housing nation-wide whose energy costs approach $6 billion annually. Significant opportunities exist for lowering these costs; the Office will play a key role in working with HUD partners and programs to develop strategies, identify incentives, increase capacity, and lower barriers to implementing energy efficiency programs and installing clean energy systems in these properties.