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Affordable Housing Industry Embraces Green Building Techniques

Affordable housing advocates find that green building techniques result in higher-quality construction -- and often with costs comparable to traditional building techniques.
January 7, 2012, 7am PST | bstanley
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The long-held view that green building is too expensive for affordable housing is being challenged. While critics argue that now is not the time (or the market) to incorporate greening into affordable housing, Noreen Beatley, former director of state and local policy for Enterprise Community Partners, suggests the contrary, writing that "these economic times require us to look for the best return on our investments and elected officials know that green building provides that."

Evidence debunking this green "cost myth" has mounted over the past decade. The ongoing operations and maintenance costs that often threaten the sustainability of developments are brought down over time in green building. Recent studies from organizations like New Ecology and the Green CDC Initiative support that green building will minimize these costs over time. "As money for new construction dries up," says Beatley, "preserving and retrofitting existing affordable housing stock to energy efficient, green building standards is of paramount importance."

"Great strides have been made in green building over the past 10 years. Today, more than 50 percent of the housing certified under the LEED for Homes program are affordable. LEED and Green Communities criteria have been updated to reflect innovations and higher performance standards that have evolved as green building practices become more common. LEED for Homes has been expanded to include mid-rise multifamily buildings and LEED Neighborhood Development has become a standard for many public housing redevelopment projects. "

Thanks to Brittany Stanley

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Published on Thursday, January 5, 2012 in Shelterforce
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