Enterprise Green Communities

January 08, 2010
January/February 2010
A version of this article appears in the January/February 2010 issue of Home Energy Magazine.
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Enterprise Green Communities provides financial support and technical expertise to enable developers to build and rehabilitate homes that are healthier, more energy efficient and better for the environment on a cost-effective basis. The organization has been building thriving green communities for five years and has invested more that $700-million in green affordable housing developments. Its recently published report, Incremental Cost, Measurable Savings: Enterprise Green Communities Criteria proves that the benefits of creating sustainably built, measurably energy-efficient, healthy multifamily housing outweigh the up-front costs.
High Point in West Seattle
According to the report’s executive summary, applying comprehensive green methods and materials to affordable housing developments invariably raises two hotly debated questions. First, How much do these measures cost? And second, Are these measures cost-effective? The report answers these questions by studying 27 affordable housing developments across the United States that meet the Enterprise Green Communities Criteria. The criteria include standards for indoor air quality, energy efficiency, and environmental benefits by addressing integrated design, location, site improvements, water conservation, materials with low environmental impact, and operation and maintenance. Enterprise puts a good amount of emphasis on the design and early planning stages of the developments for optimal savings—and not just financial savings, either.

Focusing on such design elements as orientation of the housing, location of the windows, and optimization of daylight into the housing can reduce the cost of the mechanical and electrical systems, making room in the budget for other things, such as healthier building materials. Enterprise collects data on its developments when they have been in service for at least one year.

Key criteria include
▪ building to Energy Star standards or better,
▪ installing Energy Star appliances,
▪ installing Energy Star lighting, and
▪ installing water-conserving appliances and fixtures.

The study consists of two parts. Part 1 provides background on the study, an analysis of the financial benefits of the Green Communities Criteria, and implications for future policy and practice. Part 2, the Technical Report, describes how and why specific Green Communities Criteria are incorporated into development projects and provides detailed findings on the average cost of implementing each criterion.

For more information:
Bourland, Dana L. Incremental Cost, Measurable Savings: Enterprise Green Communities Criteria. Columbia: Enterprise Community Partners, Inc., 2009. To read the full report, go to www.enterprisenextgen.org.

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