Healthy & Resilient Homes and Buildings Goal 2: Improve whole home performance and health

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Regional Building Energy Exchange

BE 2.1: Leverage the Climate Action KC Regional Building Energy Exchange

Climate Action KC launched the Regional Building Energy Exchange with the aim of achieving net zero emissions for all buildings. The Exchange will serve as a one-stop hub for innovative solutions and emerging trends in the built environment. The program will assist renters, homeowners and building owners with technical assistance, managing contractors, accessing utility incentives and financing options. Its initial focus will be to provide resources and services to low-income households, renters and public housing developments in order to address urgent livability issues, relieve burdensome utility bills and reduce energy waste.

This centralized regional resource will aid with new construction and building improvement projects to help achieve net-zero emissions, especially in low- and moderate-income communities. It will also support governmental entities and municipalities with policy development and increase access to critical data and tools. The Building Energy Exchange will ultimately encompass both residential and commercial building performance to help the region meet ambitious climate goals, create jobs, accelerate innovation and grow the economy.

Equity considerations/opportunities

Incentives for used EVs or EV carsharing to expand EV charging would benefit low-income communities. Expanding charging infrastructure to underserved communities should be prioritized after extensive neighborhood education, outreach and input.

  • Mitigation
  • Adaptation
  • Mitigation
  • Adaptation

Savings through programs

BE-2.2: Maximize savings through energy efficiency and healthy home programs

A healthy home is an energy efficient home, and residential energy programs will address the intersections of environmental quality, health, building integrity and energy. Governments and utilities can incentivize residential energy conservation through a  combination of programs aimed at providing weatherization services and resources, along with fiscal incentives, financing options and relief.

Local governments can encourage builders to pursue green building practices through various discounts and allowances, but issues with whole-home health are primarily found in existing housing stock. Roughly half of Kansas City residents are renters. Tenants, low-income populations and communities of color disproportionately struggle with poor indoor environmental quality, disrepair
and costly energy bills.

Healthy home programs provide environmental health education, resources and services, and can operate in tangent with energy efficiency programs for renters and low-income households to address core livability and affordability concerns. Substandard housing has become a hallmark impact of historic redlining, but a robust expansion of these programs addresses urgent basic needs while mitigating the impacts of climate change.

Equity considerations/opportunities

Weatherization addresses the most immediate impacts of climate change in frontline populations, establishing fundamentally safer, healthier and more resilient homes. Housing advocates, tenants, low-income communities and communities of color will be engaged throughout the process.

Efficiency and durability

BE-2.3: Embed energy efficiency and durability in affordable housing efforts

Residential energy conservation programs simultaneously address urgent housing and climate issues. Public housing authorities across the country have struggled with fiscal constraints leading to environmentally hazardous, inefficient and unsafe living environments for tenants.

Affordable housing residents frequently cope with faulty electrical, appliances, plumbing, heating and cooling systems. A deep weatherization and retrofit program specifically targeted toward affordable housing properties would both save energy and mitigate climate risks while helping housing authorities address deferred maintenance costs.

Deep retrofits could help buildings save nearly 30% on water usage and up to 70% on energy bills, leading to long-term cost savings and affordability benefits. Getting public housing up to the standard of safety and livability using energy and healthy home retrofits would promote stronger, healthier, equitable and more resilient communities.

Equity considerations/opportunities

Retrofitting affordable housing is a critical way to address the most immediate impacts of climate change in frontline populations, establishing fundamentally safer, healthier and more resilient communities. Housing advocates, tenants/tenant unions and public housing communities will be engaged throughout the process.

  • Mitigation
  • Adaptation
  • Mitigation
  • Adaptation

Health and performance standards

BE-2.4: Adopt building health and performance standards and local government
enforcement strategies, including IECC and National Healthy Housing Standard

A healthy home is an energy efficient home, and residential energy programs will address the intersections of environmental quality, health, building integrity and energy. Governments and utilities can incentivize residential energy conservation through a  combination of programs aimed at providing weatherization services and resources, along with fiscal incentives, financing options and relief.

Local governments can encourage builders to pursue green building practices through various discounts and allowances, but issues with whole-home health are primarily found in existing housing stock. Roughly half of Kansas City residents are renters. Tenants, low-income populations and communities of color disproportionately struggle with poor indoor environmental quality, disrepair
and costly energy bills.

Healthy home programs provide environmental health education, resources and services, and can operate in tangent with energy efficiency programs for renters and low-income households to address core livability and affordability concerns. Substandard housing has become a hallmark impact of historic redlining, but a robust expansion of these programs addresses urgent basic needs while mitigating the impacts of climate change.

Equity considerations/opportunities

Codes adoption and enforcement should focus particularly on existing properties that typically have more health and safety issues, and are primarily occupied by vulnerable populations. Underserved communities are most impacted by unhealthy homes and often lack the means to relocate, and neighborhood leaders and community members should be engaged throughout the process of developing and enforcing code. Community education about basic housing standards together with healthy home programming and resources will help tenants to report and resolve violations.

Water efficiency

BE 2.5: Expand water use efficiency programs

Using water at home requires energy to be cleaned, transported and heated. Hot water is responsible for nearly a quarter of residential energy use worldwide, and conservation measures inside and outside the home can help homeowners save money on both water and energy bills.

Local standards that require water-efficient plumbing are particularly effective. Utilities and local governments may link regulations with incentives, such as rebates on efficient appliances. In addition, promotion and education around water conservation programs like EPA’s WaterSense program can help residents make informed decisions about their water habits, plumbing and appliances.

Equity considerations/opportunities

Access to clean, affordable water is a fundamental equity issue. Community engagement throughout will communicate the impact of water conservation incentives, regulations and resources.

  • Mitigation
  • Adaptation