Green building is here, and affordable housing developers had better get used to it. That was the message from panelists at AHF Live.

Enterprise has been surveying states for several years to see which ones have green building standards, and the progression over just the last five years has been remarkable, according to Dana Bourland, senior director of green communities with Enterprise Community Partners. What the organization has found: Although fewer than one in five states included green criteria in their qualified allocation plans (QAP) just a few years ago, now all but about 10 states have some kind of green requirement in their QAPs.

Those gains are reflected in Enterprise’s progress toward its goals under the Green Communities Initiative, which called for the organization to invest $500 million over five years in 8,500 homes, Bourland said. Just four years into that plan, the organization has invested $570 million in roughly 13,000 homes, she added.

Although some developers complain that green requirements add a cost burden to their developments, the prerequisites tend to only increase total development costs by about 2 percent on average, said panelists. The biggest costs are for energy and water-efficiency improvements. At the same time, by meeting green criteria, developers can achieve savings of as much as 25 percent on energy costs, panelists said.

Those numbers can really add up for property owners—including government owners such as the Department of Housing and Urban Development, said panelist Bill Kelly, co-founder and president of Stewards of Affordable Housing for the Future, an alliance of eight nonprofit housing groups. He noted that HUD spends more than $5 billion a year on utilities alone, an expenditure that could be dramatically slashed through energy-efficiency improvements. Energy retrofits can produce a savings of as much as 25 percent over a five- to seven-year period, he said.