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Perspectives Blog

Two Years In, Fannie Mae's Single-Family Green MBS Issuance Tops $1 Billion 

July 13, 2022
Arthur Johnson
Arthur Johnson

Vice President, Single-Family Capital Markets

Fannie Mae's Single-Family Green Mortgage-Backed Securities (MBS) program eclipsed $1 billion worth of issuance on the second anniversary of its launch and was recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy as an ENERGY STAR® partner for the second consecutive year. The growth of this program illustrates Fannie Mae's continued commitment to achieving positive environmental, social, and economic outcomes by financing single-family homes that exceed energy- and water-saving standards. Fannie Mae's Single-Family Green MBS took root thanks to growing lender participation and investors who likely appreciate the program's rigorous and transparent certification of newly built homes.

Studies have found that residential housing accounts for some 20% of all greenhouse emissions and nearly 10 trillion gallons of water used annually in the United States. The industry's campaign to reduce emissions and water use calls for a protracted effort, and that is why Fannie Mae developed a program with business partners emphasizing increasingly stringent energy efficiency standards for newly constructed residential properties.

The foundation of Fannie Mae's Single-Family Green Bond program relies on green building certifications (GBCs) that have strict requirements as to what constitutes an energy efficient residence (learn more). GBCs are evaluated annually to determine if they meet our expected energy standards for newly built homes, sometimes resulting in the removal or addition of certifications. Current eligible GBCs meet or exceed the criteria for ENERGY STAR® Certification for New Homes (Residential) 3.0, which are at a minimum 10% more energy efficient but on average boast 20% more energy efficiencies than individual states' current energy code requirements.

In recent years, the bond market has seen an increase in green issuances offering environmentally focused investors an array of investment opportunities, each with its own green benefits. Fannie Mae's program, with its stringent GBCs, ensures investors can effectively measure the environmental and social benefits of their investments. A new home with an ENERGY STAR label has been inspected and tested at different stages of construction to verify it meets requirements developed by the EPA to deliver comfort, durability, and energy efficiency.

Even before a foundation is poured and carpenters frame a home, ENERGY STAR builder partners submit blueprints to an Energy Rating Company for review and analysis to determine which energy-efficient features should be included in a home. ENERGY STAR builder partners and Energy Rating Companies work closely throughout the construction of a new home to ensure its energy-efficient features are ideal for a home's climate region and that key systems in the new home function properly, with critical construction details verified at various building stages. An Energy Rating Company will inspect the property after construction is completed to ascertain if it fulfills energy efficiency requirements.

A property may get a favorable Energy Rating Index (ERI) Score or Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index Score, a requirement for the certification, but if it does not meet appropriate GBC standards, it will not receive a GBC certification. As part of our program, PEG, LLC, provides an independent verification that all properties underlying our Single-Family Green MBS received an eligible GBC.

Additionally, our program's transparency is of particular use to environmentally focused investors. Specifics about issuance, the underlying loans, and related resources are readily available on our website. More importantly, the environmental, social, and economic benefits for each individual security are quantified and published on a CUSIP level and contribute to our aggregate annual impact metrics. We estimate that homes funded by our Single-Family Green MBS program in 2020 and 2021 were projected to save over 45 million Kilo British Thermal Units (kBtu) of energy, prevent 2,132 metric tons carbon dioxide equivalent of GHG emissions, and on average, cut utility costs by $265*. Also, Fannie Mae's Single-Family Green Bond Framework was given a Light Green Second Opinion from CICERO Shades of Green, a leading global provider of green ratings for bonds. CICERO Second Opinions are independent, research-based evaluations of green bond investment frameworks to determine the environmental robustness of green bonds and offer investors better insight into the environmental quality of these bonds. In its review of our framework, Cicero concluded that "it is a strength that Fannie Mae has an explicit energy efficiency requirement that goes beyond the national building baseline."

In addition to its focus on transparency for investors, Fannie Mae made a commitment to programmatic issuance when it first introduced its Single-Family Green MBS in 2020. Through June 2022, we have completed 69 transactions, with at least one issuance a month. Over the last year, these transactions pooling 30-year and 15-year fixed-rate mortgages have ranged in size from $2.9 million to $123 million.

Meanwhile, the success of our program is due in part to our partnership with leading lenders such as NVR Mortgage Finance, Lennar Mortgage, Union Home, and DHI Mortgage. In the last year, several new lenders joined in, among them Guaranteed Rate Inc., First Heritage Mortgage LLC, Pulte Mortgage LLC, M/I Financial, and LHM Financial Corp.

Growth in the number of lenders has broadened the geographic diversity of loans pooled in these transactions. Over the last year, new markets with homes funded by our Single-Family Green MBS include California, Florida, Washington, Virginia, Nevada, and Washington, D.C. We believe investors not only welcome Fannie Mae's regular, monthly issuance of Green MBS, they also appreciate the geographic diversity of homes in these MBS issuances.  

This is just the start, and we are excited to enter the Single-Family Green MBS program's third year. We are committed to growing the program as we focus on supporting more resilient housing and a lower carbon footprint for residents in properties Fannie Mae finances.

*See our 2020 Green Bond Impact Report for a description of our methodologies for calculating the environmental and social impact of our green MBS.