What’s in the Biden Climate Plan for Efficiency? A lot.
07/15/20 :

What’s in the Biden Climate Plan for Efficiency? A lot.

Efficiency construction worker.

Climate change has been a hot button issue of the 2020 campaign cycle, and yesterday’s release of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s long-awaited climate plan returned this topic to the forefront of the presidential race. Under the former vice president’s plan, the U.S. would spend $2 trillion over four years on clean energy with the goal of building up modern, sustainable infrastructure and achieving economy-wide net-zero emissions by 2050. 

The plan includes a number of substantial boosts to energy efficiency in areas such as building retrofits, grid modernization, and electric vehicles. While this is still an early-stage campaign plan subject to change, here is a breakdown of the stated energy efficiency provisions as they currently stand.

Energy Efficiency Jobs

The Biden plan would create jobs through clean energy by:

  • Reforming and extending tax incentives that are proven to generate energy efficiency jobs.
  • Directing significant investment in energy efficiency, clean energy, electrical systems, and line infrastructure to drive the creation of skilled union jobs and make it easier to electrify buildings, industrial processes, and transportation.
  • Aiming to create 10 million jobs total while responding to climate change.

Building Retrofits and New Construction

The plan includes major elements regarding improved energy efficiency in buildings, aiming to:

  • Upgrade four million commercial buildings, and return nearly a quarter of the savings from those retrofits to state and local governments. This would include installing and maintaining high-efficiency LED lighting, electric appliances, and advanced heating and cooling systems manufactured in the United States.
  • Expand weatherization efforts to reach more than two million homes within four years, with benefits including slashing the disproportionately high energy burden for low-income rural households and rural communities of color.
  • Spur the construction of 1.5 million homes and public housing units that are energy-efficient from the start and incentivize regional planning that connects housing, transit, and jobs.
  • Make a major investment in energy upgrades for homes, offices, warehouses, and public buildings, with the plan asserting that this will create at least one million jobs in construction, engineering, and manufacturing while improving indoor air quality and environmental health.
  • Reform the building code process with the goal of establishing nationwide building performance standards for existing buildings and supporting this effort with new funding mechanisms for states, local governments, and tribes.
  • Offer direct cash rebates and low-cost financing to upgrade and electrify home appliances, install more efficient windows, and cut residential energy bills.

Other Infrastructure Provisions  

The plan also lists a number of other infrastructure investments and standards that would drive efficiency improvements, such as:

  • Launching a national effort to modernize schools, including by funding the construction of innovative, energy-efficient campuses.
  • Making a major push to drive the construction of electric vehicle infrastructure.
  • Establishing a technology-neutral Energy Efficiency and Clean Electricity Standard (EECES) for utilities and grid operators that would cut electricity bills, cut pollution, and increase competition in the market.
  • Investing in the repair of drinking water and wastewater systems, including by integrating efficiency and water quality monitoring technologies.
  • Expanding broadband and wireless broadband to every American, thus helping to enable greater adoption of efficient smart devices.

The Alliance encourages 2020 candidates at all levels of government to integrate robust energy efficiency measures into their platforms, and is glad to see that Biden and his team have made energy efficiency such a major component of his clean energy plan. Energy efficiency, with its potential to ignite massive job gains, improve the competitiveness of our economy, and reduce harmful emissions, eclipses partisan politics and requires champions on both sides of the aisle to advance thoughtful solutions.