Sierra Club

Energy rates, housing prices, and climate costs have all skyrocketed in Connecticut and residents are crying out for help. Sierra Club Connecticut and Efficiency For All are excited about the efforts of the legislature to address all three of these issues through Senate Bill 4, An Act Concerning Connecticut’s Present And Future Housing Needs. 

Senate Bill 4 is a comprehensive housing bill that will provide relief and make long-term investments that drive down costs through increased protections for renters, more affordable housing, and a program to lower energy costs for residents by improving the energy efficiency of buildings in low-income and Environmental Justice communities. 

Leticia Colon de Mejias and Samantha Dynowski

Efficiency for All, a local nonprofit made up of energy equity experts sees the immediate impacts that energy efficiency measures have on people’s energy bills, comfort, and health. Senate Bill 4 will support direct energy-saving measures like thermal boundary improvements, and insulation, as well as clean energy resources like heat pump installations, solar power generating systems, battery storage, improved roofing, storm doors, and windows. These measures would be most accessible for the homes that need them the most. This legislation creates resilience-building opportunities for Connecticut residents and will also make the removal of indoor barriers to efficiency upgrades – such as mold, vermiculite, asbestos, and lead – available to our communities.

Energy efficiency measures, like those in Senate Bill 4, also play a critical role in mitigating climate change. The less energy we use, combined with more solar power, means less pollution from power plants. On top of that, zero-emission heat pumps mean less pollution from heating.

Addressing our most inefficient housing in low-income and Environmental Justice communities, particularly those that are occupied by renters, is the aim of the energy efficiency program in Senate Bill 4. We recommend legislators make a few changes to the bill so that it effectively reaches those most in need.

“Multifamily” buildings in Connecticut are buildings with five or more units. We recommend specifically including one- to four-unit residences. New Haven provides an example as to why these one- to four-unit residences should be included. In New Haven there are 28,000 units in low-income areas designated by this bill, and just over 20,000 units, or 71%, are in residences with one to four units. We also recommend allowing owner-occupants of one- to four-unit buildings to qualify; they are renting to low-income residents and are often also low-income themselves.

Senate Bill 4 is good for people, public health, the environment, and the climate. We applaud its introduction, look forward to making sure it includes owner and renter-occupied properties with one to four units, and urge its passage by the General Assembly.

Photo: Sierra Club Connecticut

Leticia Colon de Mejias is Executive Director and Co-Chair of Efficiency for All. Samantha Dynowski is State Director of Sierra Club Connecticut.