Massachusetts Establishes $50 Million Grant Program to Decarbonize Low-Income Housing

Source: Ed Hancock, NREL 05494

On February 16, 2023, Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey announced the $50 million Low- and Moderate-Income Housing Decarbonization Grant Program, which will be administered by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) to fund building decarbonization retrofits in low- and moderate-income housing. Projects must seek to implement energy efficiency measures and decarbonize heating, cooling, and/or hot water systems. Projects must also demonstrate a long-term commitment to providing affordable housing to low- or moderate-income residents. Projects may include replacing fossil fuel-reliant heating and hot water systems with electric heat pumps, improving envelope and roofing insulation, and installing rooftop solar panels. Funding may also be provided for the removal or mitigation of barriers (e.g., roof repairs, electrical upgrades, knob and tube remediation, and vermiculite and asbestos removal) needed to install insulation, heat pumps or rooftop solar panels. Building owners, private parties, non-profits, and municipalities or other public entities can apply. DOER is accepting applications on a rolling basis; June 1, 2023 is the due date for projects to be considered in the first round of review.

The Massachusetts Clean Energy and Climate Plan for 2025 and 2030 sets a 2025 target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from space and water heating and cooling in residential buildings by 29 percent compared to 1990 levels, and a 2030 target to reduce 49 percent of emissions compared to 1990 levels. According to a November 2022 report from the Massachusetts Commission on Clean Heat established by then-Governor Charlie Baker, Massachusetts will need to retrofit between 20,000 and 25,000 homes per year until 2025 and 80,000 homes per year between 2025 and 2030 to achieve these targets. These grant dollars can be used to bring down the upfront costs of energy efficiency and electrification upgrades and address split incentive issues by providing direct funding to landlords of low- and moderate-income rental units to make investments that reduce utility bill costs and improve occupant health.