It is official- affordable housing is beginning to go green in Washington DC. After years of holding to the perception that green building and affordable housing don’t necessarily go hand in hand, nonprofit housing developers are now beginning to create the best possible scenario for low income homeowners and renters – high quality, energy efficient, affordable homes.
To assist our nonprofit partners in going green, three years ago LISC and The Home Depot Foundation joined forces to create the Healthy and Efficient Neighborhood Homes Partnership. The primary goal of the partnership is to integrate green building principles and materials into affordable housing, thereby lowering utility costs for low income homeowners/ renters and improving the overall indoor air quality.
In summer 2007, DC LISC was awarded a third consecutive grant from The Home Depot Foundation to invest directly into the production of green affordable housing units. This most recent grant will be used to green the rehabilitation of Kara House, a 13 unit affordable apartment building at 1498 Spring Rd. NW in Columbia Heights recently purchased by it’s tenants association and being redeveloped by Mi Casa.
Specific green features will include low-E and argon filled windows, efficient hot water heaters, low impact durable flooring, Energy Star appliances, and high efficiency heating and air conditioning.
To date, LISC has invested $130,000 from the Home Depot Foundation directly into the production of 37 green affordable units in Washington, DC. These represent some of the first affordable green units in the City. Grant funds were used to cover the incremental cost of going green- which has been on average 2-3% of development costs.
These investments also helped nonprofit developers get ahead of the curve on green development as the City recently passed some of the most forward thinking green building legislation in the Country – mandating certain levels of green in commercial properties and all city-funded projects by Fall 2008.
As for the benefit to the homeowner or renter? Just ask Jaime Caballero, a first time homebuyer at Manna’s green condominium project at 320 K Street NE. “It is amazing! My utility bill this summer is around $30/ month even using the AC and keeping my place nice and cool. I am really thrilled with it, it is incredible.”
Similarly sized units easily cost 2-3 times more per month to cool or heat. For people with lower or fixed incomes, that cost savings is critical. Green properties also provide better indoor air quality, benefiting people with asthma and other respiratory conditions.
We look forward to a continued strong partnership with the Home Depot Foundation and are grateful for their support.