Over my nine and a half years at AFFORDABLE HOUSING FINANCE, I've seen green invade the industry, nearly to the point of ubiquity. Among the entries for the magazine's Readers' Choice finalists, it was rare to see a nomination that didn't list some type of green component—from Energy Star appliances and low-flow fixtures to transit-oriented locations, geothermal heating, and photovoltaic arrays.
Huge strides have been made, and more will continue to be made as the Obama administration, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, other federal departments, and the state housing finance agencies (HFAs) keep the issues at the forefront and provide incentives for the next generation of green developments.
In this issue of AFFORDABLE HOUSING FINANCE, we take a look at some of the incentives out there, including the Department of Energy's Weatherization Assistance Program that can be used to make low-income properties more energy efficient. And we also take a look at which HFAs have the greenest qualified allocation plans.
But what had the most impact on me was talking with the people at the Jonathan Rose Cos. for the cover story.
This New York-based company goes beyond just building green and including sustainable products and technologies into its developments. It looks at the bigger picture of how sustainable building materials, the right location, and a mix of uses and incomes can benefit not just itself or its partners' bottom lines, but also benefit the residents, their children, and the surrounding communities.
By living in a healthy, green, and energy-efficient development in a transit- oriented location or within close proximity to their jobs, schools, and services, residents can save money, which they can then put toward future education goals, healthier food, and preventative health care.
We've talked about the benefits of transit-oriented developments, healthier housing, and green building before, but it's transformative when all the elements are put together in one place. And providing a healthier, more sustainable environment doesn't have to push the total development costs over the edge.
Jonathan F.P. Rose, president of Jonathan Rose Cos., says typical construction costs to add green elements run only about 1 percent higher than a non-green development.
Respondents to a recent AFFORDABLE HOUSING FINANCE survey agree. The largest percentage of respondents—27.3 percent—said green building adds an additional 1 percent to 5 percent to the overall cost of the development, while 9.1 percent said they are not seeing any additional costs for these elements.
I commend the owners and developers out there who are making those decisions to create energy-efficient and sustainable housing.
By taking it one step further, they're not just providing safe and affordable housing for these residents, but they're giving them opportunities for better lives today and in the future.