Why Biden just used one of his key forces on isolation?


When a president invokes the Defense Production Act, it’s one of the rare times when the executive orders the private market to act. In the past, it has been used to boost production to fight wars and fight a global pandemic. This week, President Biden used it for something unexpected.

It is not a weaponry or a high-tech device, but insulation of buildings. This mundane material may not be anyone’s idea of ​​advanced national security technology, but the Biden administration believes it is one of the most important weapons we need to combat energy waste in a rapidly changing climate.

This invocation of the Defense Production Act (DPA) was announced on June 6, when the Biden administration issued a series of executive actions to accelerate domestic clean energy production. The actions include using the federal government’s procurement process to increase demand for domestically manufactured solar panels, and temporarily allowing the import of foreign components to accelerate domestic solar panel production. And to better empower the country to use and conserve clean energy, Biden is calling on the insulation industry to get more of its products into walls. The law will encourage manufacturers to increase their production of certain products and oblige them to accept contracts for the production of goods, even if they may incur losses. Depending on the product, DPA orders can cause factories to fulfill orders within days, weeks or months.

It’s a somewhat banal focus for such a far-reaching presidential power, especially one that is rarely called into action. Since its enactment in the 1950s, the law has been invoked in moderation, mostly in the face of national security concerns. The Biden administration’s use of the DPA this week targets a broader kind of security threat. In its statement issuing these orders, the White House called clean energy technologies “a critical part of the arsenal we must use to lower energy costs for families, mitigate risks to our electrical grid and address the urgent crisis of a changing climate.” to deal with.”

The job calls for increased production of more than just insulation. Other technologies include highly efficient heat pumps, new transformers and components to improve grid resilience, and electrolysers that can produce clean hydrogen energy. Most of these products are either specialized or for use in large-scale utilities. Insulation, on the other hand, is used almost everywhere, albeit unevenly.

Insulation is very effective in reducing energy consumption and costs. The EPA estimates that a well-insulated and sealed home can yield about 15% annual energy savings. The Department of Energy says about half of the homes in the US were built before building codes required modern energy-saving insulation. The department estimates that the renovation of these buildings could cut energy consumption in half.

“Reducing energy waste in buildings is one of the most important climate actions you can take. And one of the main ways we reduce energy waste in buildings is through really good insulation,” said Stephen Walls, who focuses on building decarbonisation with the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Insulation plays a really crucial role, even if it’s not as cool as a solar panel or electric vehicle or even a heat pump.”

It makes sense to use the DPA to boost insulation production, Walls says, especially as building-focused funding is starting to flow out of the infrastructure bipartisan bill. “With the amount of money that will be available not only to the federal government, but also to state and local governments to support renovations to existing buildings, the demand for products like these will potentially increase quite dramatically,” Walls says.

At scale, better insulated homes can be an important source of energy savings, especially in older buildings. Eric Bradley is director of new energy and sustainability at real estate company Taurus Investment Holdings, which has invested in adapting housing projects for workers across the country. To make these homes more affordable for people to live in, Taurus focuses specifically on energy-saving upgrades such as better insulation. Bradley says increasing the supply of insulation will only make these retrofits more feasible across the housing spectrum. “From a social justice perspective, lower-income consumers tend to live in older, less efficient buildings, so energy efficiency improvements can really help protect these consumers from energy price volatility and the impact of high energy prices,” he says. .

How quickly the insulation industry will take off remains to be seen, but if the administration has its way, factories across the country will start rolling out even more insulation to secure the walls of homes and buildings. Let the energy saving begin.


This post Why Biden just used one of his key forces on isolation? was original published at “https://www.fastcompany.com/90759402/why-biden-just-used-one-of-his-most-significant-powers-on-insulation?partner=rss&utm_source=rss&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=rss+fastcompany&utm_content=rss”

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