Green your house, get a lower mortgage rate?

Mary Butler

You're probably tired of hearing the word stimulus at this point. However, Edward Mazria's 2030 Challenge Stimulus Plan might just work--his idea centers on green home remodelers like you.

Mazria's Green Remodeling Challenge

Mazria, an architect, educator and author of the best-selling, The Passive Solar Energy Book, first published in 1979, believes that if homeowners' mortgage rates are reduced in relation to how energy efficient their homes are, it could create more than 9 million new jobs and $1 trillion in direct non-federal spending in just two years.

His concept is surprisingly simple: buy down homeowners' mortgage rates if they renovate and improve the energy efficiency of their homes. The greater the energy reductions, the lower the interest rates a homeowner would qualify for. This should be music to the green remodeler's ears. And it's steeped in empowering--and enriching--regular middle class people rather than bankers. How refreshing.

The federal government would need to invest $197 billion over two years, stimulating $1 trillion in building spending and investments by regular Joes and Janes. With interest rates as low as 3 percent, homeowners could save hundreds of dollars on a typical monthly mortgage, plus hundreds more in reduced energy bills.

Green Remodeling Stimulus: What it Means

Mazria's plan could cause home values rise which could reduce the risk for mortgage failure. As a result, homeowners would have more disposable income and the need for upgrades could create new jobs. Product manufacturers would have an expanded market and home owners could dramatically reduce their energy consumption and carbon footprint.

Mazria estimates his plan could save consumers $132 billion to $208 billion in energy costs and mortgage payments over five years.

Business Week featured the plan back before the $787 billion federal stimulus package was adopted in February. Given that the government hasn't stopped writing checks, maybe there's still hope for Mazria's plan to gain steam. There are more than 110 million homes in the U.S., with the majority in need of energy upgrades.

The Department of Energy has a goal of "marketable" zero-energy homes by 2020. The way things are going, that's not going to happen. But with education and solid financial incentive, such as is offered by Mazria's plan, that goal might not be so lofty after all.

Obama Asked For It: Here It Is • Jan 12, 2008 • http://www.architecture2030.orghttp://www.architecture2030.org/downloads/2030StimulusPlan_PR.pdf • Architecture 2030,
Building Techologies Program • • http://www1.eere.energy.govhttp://www1.eere.energy.gov/buildings/goals.html • U.S. Department of Energy

About the Author
Mary Butler is a Boulder, Colorado based writer and editor, who spends much of her free time remodeling an old house.

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