Thursday, March 15, 2012

Bringing Green Building Outcomes to Affordable Homes

Matt Pearce
Campaign Specialist
U.S. Green Building Council

The benefits of green building – quality, healthy and safe environments that are cost effective – should be available to all. These outcomes are especially critical in affordable housing where studies show that income level segments that rely on affordable housing often pay more in utility and water costs then people of with higher incomes. It’s a problem that needs a solution.

To catalyze change and bring more green building outcomes into affordable housing, USGBC recently introduced the Value Quality and Efficient Affordable Housing Campaign. The campaign is aimed at spurring USGBC advocates into action to fight for green building attributes, primarily third party certified green building standards like LEED for Homes, to be included in their states affordable housing policy.

Affordable housing policy in every state is administered by a state housing finance agency (SHFA). Each SHFA develops a Quality Allocation Plan (QAP) which in turn drives affordable housing development mostly by determining how projects are funded though Low Income Housing Tax Credits. And while many state QAPs do include green attributes, only a handful of plans specify third party certified green building rating systems.

The best way to get third party certified rating systems and green attributes into affordable housing policy is by greening the QAP. To help advocates hit the ground running and make change happen, several resources like a campaign brief and legislative text were developed. In addition, outside groups like Enterprise Community Partners provides a wealth of information to help jump start the process including an interactive map displaying QAP attributes for every state and a handy Green Affordable Housing Toolkit.

While some great things have been happening around the country in regards to building quality, green affordable homes, more can be done. From the campaign roll out call, the USGBC advocacy community certainly seems engaged and eager to bring green building qualities to future generations of affordable housing stock.


  1. Dear Matt,
    your blog is interesting and the US debate on social housing is very proactive & constructive.
    We are CECODHAS Housing Europe,the European Federation of Public, Cooperative & Social Housing, is working a lot on EU level to adapt Green Housing solution to affordable housing sector.
    You can find more info in our website
    or our blog
    or our twitter profile
    Tomorrow we have a big conference chaired by EU Commissioner Lazlo Andor and we will launch our campaign #affordableHOUSINGwanted !

    I am looking forward to hearing from you,
    Caterina Verde
    CECODHAS Housing Europe

  2. “Communities around the country are doing great work to analyze, design, and build today in order to ensure a better, brighter, greener and stronger tomorrow.” In my opinion, that is the only way to move forward in the building industry. There has to be innovation, development, vision – there has to be overall change. Buildings have such a large carbon footprint, brought about by the use of outdated technologies. There are technologies today that allow for better ventilation and insulation in buildings, and most of these are available at marginally higher costs. We just have to take a step forward.

    *Alejandra Hutchcraft