BOSTON, MA – July 25, 2023 – Last week, members of the Zero Carbon Renovation Fund Coalition – a diverse coalition of 180+ organizations – and advocates attended the Massachusetts Senate TUE committee hearing, to testify in support of legislation to establish a $300 million Zero Carbon Renovation Fund (S.2365), to advance and scale equitable building decarbonization efforts across the Commonwealth.
“The Zero Carbon Renovation Fund will not only jumpstart and transform the way we retrofit our buildings, it will dramatically cut greenhouse gas emissions, improve climate resiliency, increase affordability, and improve the health outcomes for communities most in need,” said Miranda D’Oleo, Buildings Campaign Director, Massachusetts Climate Action Network. “By providing urgently needed funds for affordable housing, public housing, municipal buildings, and women- and minority-owned businesses, S.2365 would be used as a direct tool to jumpstart the equitable market for deep energy retrofits and building decarbonization here in Massachusetts.”
“From historic city and town halls to public libraries and DPW facilities, municipal buildings desperately need these upgrades, and paired with current state resources and federal funding opportunities, the Zero Carbon Renovation Fund would help to ensure Massachusetts cities and towns can make them,” said Matt Walsh, Government Affairs Policy Analyst, Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC). “The Zero Carbon Renovation Fund would help to fill an existing funding gap, and paired with existing resources, would allow municipalities to undertake projects that make public buildings more sustainable, resilient, and healthy places for residents and municipal employees.”
“Rising housing and energy costs, new decarbonization goals and regulations, and expiring deed restrictions mean there is an exceedingly small amount of affordable housing ready to meet our future climate needs,” said Emily Jones, Senior Program Officer, LISC Boston. “The Zero Carbon Renovation Fund will address these multipronged challenges by providing affordable housing owners with additional flexible resources to implement critically needed decarbonization upgrades that will result in healthier, climate-ready, and more financially stable affordable housing.”
“We must generate a wave of retrofit projects that can achieve deep emissions reductions, and, per the Commission on Clean Heat’s recommendations, we need to do so in a way that protects and prioritizes the most vulnerable and at-risk residents,” said Lauren Baumann, New Ecology, Inc. “The Zero Carbon Renovation Fund will enable new green financing products and efficiency rebates to achieve the greatest positive impact. It will provide the dollars and confidence necessary early in the project planning process for building owners to commit to ambitious emissions reduction strategies.”
“Passing S.2365 is vital to the communities that make up Neighbor to Neighbor. Our members voted this as one of our top priorities because we understand the need for action at the intersection of climate justice and housing equity. Unlike most climate bills, this one will deliver resources for the most vulnerable people in Massachusetts, who have been historically sidelined in climate discussions,” said Miles Gresham, Campaign Director, Neighbor to Neighbor Massachusetts. “We urge the Senate and the House to pass this bill favorably out of their respective committees and make the Zero Carbon Renovation Fund a reality.”
“Passing S.2365 would provide essential funding to improve the quality of our housing while making it energy efficient, reducing our carbon footprint in the communities that are often overlooked with funding like this,” said Anna Smith, Board Member, Neighbor to Neighbor Massachusetts.
“The Zero Carbon Renovation Fund is a pivotal step, not only in advancing greater American interest in climate change, but also in ensuring our younger generations a world and environment of promise and protection,” said Evan Khym, Massachusetts Youth Climate Coalition. “Schools are the perfect place to start, as climate change can have effects such as hampering attention and unnecessarily burdening students mentally. A fund more specifically helping schools revamp facilities will be monumental, setting precedent for further restructuring for a Green America.”
“JALSA’s support for the Zero Carbon Renovation Fund is rooted in our deeply held faith-based values,” said Cindy Rowe, President and CEO, Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action (JALSA). “As stewards of our environment, we are encouraged ‘to till and to tend’ our earth. The ZCRF allows us, in our modern day, to do this in a responsible and equitable manner, honoring our commitment to treat both people and our planet with respect and dignity.”
Introduced in January by Representative Andy Vargas in the House and Senator Adam Gomez in the Senate, the bill would provide the $300 million down payment necessary to jumpstart the market for zero carbon renovations in Massachusetts, laying the foundation to equitably scale building decarbonization best practices, reduce project costs, and make progress on the Commonwealth’s climate goals of retrofitting an additional 500,000 residential homes and roughly 300 million square feet of commercial buildings by 2030.
With a specific focus on existing buildings – which currently contribute nearly one-third of the Commonwealth’s total carbon emissions – and on communities who have historically faced the greatest barriers to decarbonization – including environmental justice communities, low- and moderate- income housing, municipal buildings (including schools), and minority- and women- owned businesses – the Fund aims to advance environmental justice, improve health outcomes, boost community resilience, drive down energy costs, and catalyze a just and equitable transition to a clean energy future.
Members of the Zero Carbon Renovation Fund Coalition and advocates also plan to attend and testify at the Massachusetts House TUE committee hearing in support of the House version of the bill, H.3232, which has been rescheduled for October 31, 2023.
The Zero Carbon Renovation Fund Coalition
The Zero Carbon Renovation Fund Coalition is a coalition made up of more than 180 organizations across the Commonwealth – working at the intersection of housing, education, health, climate, and environmental justice – advocating for a $300 million down payment to jumpstart the zero carbon renovation industry and advance and scale equitable building decarbonization efforts across Massachusetts. More information about the Zero Carbon Renovation Fund Coalition, including the full list of coalition members, can be found here.