THE DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT (HUD) could do more to encourage green building, according to a new report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

The report, Green Affordable Housing: HUD Has Made Progress in Promoting Green Building, But Expanding Efforts Could Help Reduce Energy Costs and Benefit Tenants, makes several recommendations, including calling on HUD to complete a regulation that would require the use of energy-efficient products for public housing and to work with other agencies to develop a utility benchmarking tool for multifamily properties.

The report says that much of HUD's efforts have focused on measures that encourage energy efficiency but have few financial incentives to stimulate other green practices such as water conservation. Without financial incentives, “HUD is likely missing opportunities to make its affordable housing more resource efficient and environmentally friendly,” according to the report.

The report notes that HUD spends roughly $5 billion, more than 10 percent of its budget, on energy costs.