President’s Home Weatherization Stimulus Needs Protections for Historic Places
President Obama and the Congress appear to be moving quickly to create programs to stimulate job creation while increasing the energy efficiency of the nation’s housing stock, and historic places could benefit – or be at risk. A report by the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board suggest a major federal investment in home weatherization, which parallels proposals currently in the House and Senate energy/climate change bills. According to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the proposed program “creates a new, two-track approach to achieving energy efficiency – SILVER STAR and GOLD STAR. The SILVER STAR would create a list of eligible measures and product s that can be purchased which qualify the homeowner with a matching payment from the government. The GOLD STAR program, much like REEP, is performance-based and would require an energy audit and the use of certified contractors to do the work.”
The national historic preservation community supports the proposals, which have been dubbed “”Cash for Caulkers,” with some caveats in order to protect older and historic buildings from unintended damage and loss of historic integrity.
The National Trust, Preservation New Jersey and many of our partners, offer several recommendations to the President and the Congress as they move forward with this much needed legislation. They include:
• Include incentives for utilities and other energy auditors to provide homeowners with free or low-cost energy audits as a first step to any product purchase or efficiency measure
• Provide funding for job training and certification programs for existing energy auditors and contractors and new entrants into the field that teaches knowledge and skills necessary to assess the need and appropriate retrofit plan for of older and historic buildings. A high priority should be placed on the retrofit of historic windows
• Include storm window units and window weatherization materials in the HOMESTAR list of eligible products and measures. Allow the repair and weatherization of existing windows to be an eligible activity in the SILVER STAR and GOLD STAR tracks. Under the current energy tax credit program, the use of certified storm windows requires additional performance measurement after installation. This additional step should be eliminated in the HOMESTAR program.
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