This publication marks a new benchmark in the documentation and advancement of resource-efficient, affordable housing. To date, most efforts in the field of resource-efficient building (i.e. green building, sustainable building) have focused primarily on commercial building. Until the last two to three years, little effort has been devoted to “greening” traditional affordable housing.
Building green does not always cost more. You can build a better quality home by incorporating resource efficient building practices without increasing first costs yet decreasing life cycle costs for the homeowner, resident, and operator. And in building green, the potential for enhanced marketing, savings, and environmental protection is ultimately increased.
We have, through our own work and that of others, recently witnessed a wide variety of developers realize the advantage of green affordable housing. These developers range from Habitat for Humanity International to many local builders in communities across the country. Residents, developers, operators, and the community enjoy several benefits of green housing, such as green energy advantages and decreased maintainance costs. The Earth and future generations will also benefit as we try to make affordable a new level of quality building that considers the environment globally, locally, and in the home.
This is fundamental in addressing our nation’s dire shortage of affordable housing in communities from coast to coast. We must address long-term affordabilty to increase the scarce stock of lowincome housing. A 1998 report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities cites utility and maintenance costs as the top of three conditions contributing to this shortage. Greening affordable housing can bring both those costs down while improving the lives of those in need and creating more livable communities. vii The importance of green affordable housing is evident: by narrowing our focus to the intersection of housing and sustainable communities, we can begin effectively countering poverty, the shortage of affordable housing, and dire threats to the environment. Remember, resource-efficient building does not mean it’s more expensive. Through design and comparably-priced systems and products, we can create housing that lowers energy bills for residents and creates healthier homes. Further, we can foster broad shifts in environmentally-conscious lifestyle trends by increasing accessibility to green building through affordable and sustainable methods. We have written this publication for developers who hold the key to changing the way we design, build, and construct our communities. Still we anticipate others will find it useful as well. We welcome your comments and feedback as we update this document in future editions and publications.