If Energy Efficiency Adds Value to a Building, How Do We Keep it Affordable?


Local governments across California are struggling with housing questions as the price of housing in desirable, connected areas keeps increasing. As we see increasing evidence that energy efficiency and green building practices raise the value of a residence, how do local governments make housing efficient and affordable?

A March 2016 GreenBiz article, Can housing be both energy efficient and affordable? asks just this. And finds, ultimately, that efficient housing is affordable housing – lower ongoing, operational costs through lower utility bills make a huge difference to lower-income families. Several reports have come out this spring looking at how low-income communities – and in particular, African-American, Latino, and low-income multi-family communities – face a disproportionate energy burden through high utility bills.

The article also finds that despite the need to reduce this energy burden, energy efficiency in affordable housing remains on the table. Per GreenBiz, “A 2015 study by the nonprofit partnership Energy Efficiency For All suggests that implementing energy-efficiency programs across a spectrum of affordable housing types could result in cost-effective energy savings of 15 to 30 percent, which even at the low end would represent large reductions in usage and savings.”

This incredible opportunity has been the topic of conversation in California, getting coverage at state hearings, and in new innovative programs. GreenBiz shares best practices of keeping public housing buildings for longer to make energy efficiency investments an economic no-brainer, and providing innovative financing and programs that specifically target multi-family property and stakeholder needs.

For a list of incentive programs in California with multi-family specific offerings, click here.

For more on multi-family, click here.

For coverage on multi-family weatherization funding, click here.

For a 2015 program design guide from NRDC, National Housing Trust and the Energy Foundation on how to best provide energy efficiency in affordable housing, click here.

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