Electric pickup trucks are cool.

But when it comes to building a cleaner economy and creating the jobs and other economic opportunities that come with it, so are heat pumps, Energy Star appliances and climate finance, the Biden administration showed this week.

Biden at the wheel of Ford’s F-150 Lightning. SOURCE: AP via YouTube

While up in Michigan the biggest game-changing electric vehicle since Tesla — the Ford F-150 Lightning — stole the show this week, back in Washington the Biden administration also shifted into high gear other policies.

On Monday, White House officials unveiled a sweeping suite of policies aimed at electrifying buildings and making them more energy efficient, including:

· A $30 million investment in workforce training programs for energy efficiency workers to help electrify buildings

· New building performance standards for federal buildings and new partnership to expand building electrification

· New Energy Star standards and programs to expand development and deployment of electric heat pumps and their use in equipment such as air conditioners and hot water heaters

They may not be as sexy as electric trucks that are powerful enough to pull trains and go 0–60 in under 5 seconds. But electrifying our buildings can be a climate and economy game-changer too.

If every heat pump, air conditioner or electric water heater met the new Energy Star standards, energy cost savings would grow to an estimated $11 billion a year and greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced by 255 billion tons, the White House estimates. (And as somebody who just installed a new electric heat pump hot water heater at my home, and last year installed a ductless mini-split heat-pump HVAC system, I can personally attest to the savings).

In addition to creating savings, we can create jobs. Already, manufacturing and installation of Energy Star appliances and LED lighting employs some 490,000 Americans according to E2’s Clean Jobs America 2021 report. Federal programs to deploy more Energy Star heat pumps and other appliances would create even more jobs.

The Biden administration this week also signaled its support of a Clean Energy Accelerator that could drive building electrification. According to a study by Rewiring America and the Coalition for Green Capital (of which E2 is a member) leveraging $100 billion in public and private finance administered through a proposed Clean Energy Accelerator could electrify some 12 million homes nationwide, saving households $750 per year, creating 700,000 jobs and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by up to 40 million tons.

On the other end of the climate-economy spectrum, the Biden administration separately is developing a plan to better account for climate-related risks to public and private assets and investments. As any business knows, you can’t fix what you don’t measure. Such a program would help measure the economic costs of climate change so we can help shore up our economy in the years ahead.

Now that the White House has set a path, Congress needs to act. As about 400 E2 business leaders nationwide pointed out in this letter to Congress, it’s time to set aside partisanship and ideology and take action now to support programs like these that will mitigate climate harms and seize the opportunities of climate action for our economy.

We now have a roadmap to do this, thanks to the Biden administration. We now have the vehicles — literally and figuratively — to electrify and reduce carbon emissions in our transportation systems and our buildings while spurring innovation and jobs. We all now have experienced the growing economic costs of climate change, and the economic benefits of climate action.

Congress, it’s now your turn at the wheel.

Let’s keep it rolling.


Electric Trucks Are Just The Start. Congress, Let’s Get Rolling. was originally published in e2org on Medium.

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