In an effort to invest in climate resiliency, the Biden administration announced provisions for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to fund net-zero energy projects for the first time. Net-zero buildings are more resilient to brownouts and blackouts, according to FEMA.
Communities will need electrical contractors’ help to make these projects a reality.
Announced on Jan. 24, projects including solar panels, heat pumps and efficient appliances will be funded through the Public Assistance grant program, the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) and the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) grant program to increase community resilience. Public Assistance “covers the rebuilding of schools, hospitals, fire stations and other community infrastructure investments post-disasters.”
Deanne Criswell, FEMA administrator, said net-zero projects are the “single most effective measure FEMA can take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address the climate crisis.”
The Public Assistance program offers grants to state, tribal, territorial and local governments, as well as some private nonprofits, to rebuild after a disaster. These projects’ goals are “to cut utility costs, increase energy reliability and reduce disaster-related costs for communities,” according to FEMA.
HMGP is a program for state, local, tribal and territorial governments to develop hazard mitigation plans to reduce disaster-related costs in their communities. This funding is available after a presidentially declared disaster.
The BRIC program funds climate resiliency. According to FEMA, since 2019 the United States has experienced about 20.4 weather and climate disasters a year that cost more than $1 billion each. States, territories and tribes are encouraged to think about using materials better for the climate and exploring clean energy opportunities on projects.
Communities can use resources in the Building Code Plus-Up in the 2023 Notice of Funding Opportunity to “to increase resilience, reduce the burden of high energy costs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions through adoption of latest consensus building and energy codes.”