Creating Affordable Housing Becomes More Challenging Due to Department of Energy Changes
The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) is raising concerns about the impact of regulations imposed by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) on the pursuit of affordable housing. Alicia Huey, the NAHB Chairman and a seasoned custom home builder and developer from Birmingham, Alabama, addressed the U.S. House Committee on Small Business, shedding light on the challenges faced by the residential construction industry.
In her testimony, Huey emphasized that the residential construction sector is already heavily regulated, making the addition of DOE oversight a further hindrance to affordable housing initiatives. She expressed the sentiment that government policies and regulations are increasingly impeding the efforts of home builders and multifamily developers to create affordable housing solutions.
One specific concern raised by Huey relates to a DOE proposal demanding manufacturers to retool their operations for the production of new transformers. This proposal, according to Huey, comes at a time when the current transformer manufacturing is already grappling with an 18-to-24-month backlog. In response to this, NAHB supports H.R. 4167, the Protecting America’s Distribution Transformer Supply Chain Act, which aims to stabilize the market by preventing changes to energy conservation standards for distribution transformers for a period of five years.
Huey also critiqued the proposed Energy Conservation Standards for Consumer Conventional Cooking Products rule, which could potentially ban the sale of most current gas cooktop models. She argued that this would lead to production delays and increased costs for consumers.
Additionally, Huey voiced concerns about the Inflation Reduction Act, which includes $1 billion in grants to state and local governments to adopt updated energy codes. She argued that such measures, including the 2021 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), could significantly increase home prices, adding as much as $31,000.
To address these challenges and promote affordable housing, Huey called for a coordinated effort across all levels of government. She urged a focus on existing housing, especially older homes built before the introduction of modern energy codes. Furthermore, she advocated for regulatory reforms, suggesting the passage of legislation such as H.R. 358, the Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Improvement Act, to ensure that regulations are tailored to accommodate small businesses, considering their unique challenges and contributions to the housing sector. Huey emphasized the need for regulatory agencies to consider the true cost of regulations on small businesses and comply with the letter and intent of the law when crafting new regulations.