For the first time, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will fund net-zero energy projects through its Public Assistance grant program, which covers the rebuilding of schools, hospitals, fire stations, and other community infrastructure investments post-disaster.
FEMA is also funding net-zero energy projects for its Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) and now offers incentives through its Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) annual grant program to encourage more communities to use net-zero projects that increase community resilience.
“As the increase of extreme weather hazards become more severe due to climate change, we need to adapt the way we are helping communities rebuild post-disaster,” said FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell. “FEMA will now cover the costs of net-zero energy projects since they are the single most effective measure FEMA can take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address the climate crisis.”
This announcement aligns with FEMA’s Year of Resilience commitment and the Biden administration’s goal of reaching net-zero emissions economy-wide by 2050. It also follows the March 2023 announcement that FEMA will fund low-carbon construction materials for the three programs, as part of its work through the Federal Buy Clean Initiative. Such funding is enabled by the Inflation Reduction Act, the largest investment in clean energy and climate action in the country’s history.
According to FEMA, agency funding for net-zero projects will cut utility costs, increase energy reliability, and reduce disaster-related costs for communities. Net-zero infrastructure and buildings are more resilient and can maintain comfort and safety in emergencies such as brown-outs, black-outs, and extreme temperatures. Examples of eligible net-zero projects are solar microgrids, heat pumps, certified high-performance appliances, and passive heating or cooling.
State, tribal, territorial, and local governments and certain types of private nonprofits are eligible for the FEMA funding. For any federal disaster declared after Aug. 16, 2022, applicants may now take advantage of this opportunity through Public Assistance and HMGP. As of Jan. 30, more than 80 disasters have been declared across all 10 FEMA regions during this time. Additionally, the BRIC program that funds climate resilience annually may also take advantage of this opportunity.