Phius Policy Specialist Isaac Elnecave breaks down some of the most impactful policy advancements of 2022.
Thanks to the tireless efforts of the Phius community, last year saw a noticeable rise in policy activity related to Phius construction.
The Inflation Reduction Act was the headliner, as it includes hundreds of millions of federal dollars in incentives for developers and homeowners for Phius projects. But the IRA was far from the only new policy adopted in 2022.
Here’s a rundown of Phius-related advancements in both the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (Qualified Allocation Plans) and incentives. Keep an eye out for a follow-up blog with details on energy code advancements in several states (too much activity for one post!).
Xcel Energy (a major utility in the Boulder County area) rolled out its incentive designed to help people who are rebuilding after losing their homes in the Marshall Fire in southeastern Boulder County. The Xcel incentive will hopefully encourage residents to rebuild homes to above the current code and provides an incentive of $37,500 for homeowners who rebuild to the Phius standard.
In addition, Energysmart has created a new website – rebuildingbetter.org – that includes information on the incentive program as well as qualified builders – including Phius Certified Builders (CPHB).
Qualified Allocation Plans
The Qualified Allocation Plan (QAP) is the document used by state housing agencies to evaluate which potential low-income projects will receive tax credits. The QAP is a detailed document that specifies points for particular actions, often including a section detailing the number of points that a project can receive for meeting sustainability/energy efficiency goals. Fifteen states currently include Phius as part of their QAPs and a focus of Phius’ work is expanding this list of states.
This work is especially gratifying, as it increases housing equity.
Work done by the Minnesota chapter of the Phius Alliance resulted in the addition of Phius to the Minnesota QAP. The comments suggested novel ways to incorporate Phius in the QAP consistent with the existing point structure. Several groups signed on this effort including: the Center for Energy and Environment, architecture firms including Precipitate, Alchemy Architecture, LHB and MSR Design, Frerichs Construction and material suppliers including Owens Corning, Siga and Meteek Supply and 475 High Performance Building Supply. The final step for approval, the signature from the Governor, is expected to come shortly.
The current QAP administered by the Montana Department of Commerce (MT DOC) references passive house, but unfortunately defines passive house only in terms of the Passive House Institute (PHI). Phius submitted comments (and had brief discussion with staff from the MT DOC) which resulted in communications from the MT DOC stating that passive house will be defined as both Phius and PHI in the next QAP. This effort provides a timely reminder that the inclusion of the term passive house by itself may not be sufficient, and the term Phius should always be included in a given QAP.
Phius Alliance members as well as Phius staff submitted comments in several other proposed QAP updates including: Colorado, Iowa, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, and Wisconsin. While those efforts were not ultimately successful, they set the foundation for future efforts as QAPs are updated either annually or biannually.
Stay tuned for an upcoming blog on the significant successes (and upcoming successes) in relation to the state energy codes.