Green Buildings --
In addition to being less harmful to the environment, creating
healthy indoor air quality, and utilizing renewable resources,
green building technologies can be affordable. Houses that are
energy-efficient, for example, use less energy than their conventional
counterparts, which makes them more affordable to lower-income
families. Smaller designs and alternative and salvaged building
products rely less on precious resources and can cost less than
This section provides useful information on affordable
housing techniques and approaches, and identifies many additional
Green Design Overviews/Principles
Building Techniques and Products
Green Housing Overviews/Principles
There are a number of ways to achieve affordable
green housing. The following resources discuss some of these
approaches, as well as profile successful affordable housing
by Design is an article that explains
affordable green housing and investigates the efforts of some
groups to achieve small, resource-efficient homes that are also
Through Efficiency explains a project
in Chicago that demonstrates the benefits of superinsulation
techniques as a way to help create and maintain affordable housing.
House Requires Thoughtful Choices profiles the affordable green building efforts of two Oregon
Program: A Sustainable Approach profiles the city of Austinís Green Builder Program and offers
suggestions on how to reduce home construction costs by conserving
Green Home: Sensible Home Buying in Central Texas
provides some guidelines when considering a new
home that will help achieve affordability and comfort.
and Principles for Sustainable Community is a
portion of a masters thesis focusing on sustainable architectural
design for buildings.
Efficient Buildings discusses the
benefits of green buildings, how they accomplish resource efficiency
and affordability and their importance in the community structure.
Growth for Neighborhoods: Affordable Housing and Regional Vision
is a report from the National Neighborhood Coalition
that explores ways to strengthen links between affordable housing,
smart growth, and neighborhood revitalization.
Efficient Livable Housing offers a checklist to incorporate the concepts of sustainability
into home construction projects.
Alternative Building Techniques and Products
Some approaches to building use fewer virgin
products and make more efficient use of natural resources. For
example, technologies using straw-bale and rammed earth as building
components rely less on timber products. Co-housing also uses
fewer timber products because common areas such as kitchens
and play areas are built as "shared living areas" to be used
by all residents. Manufactured housing is a less-expensive alternative
to custom, site-built homes. There are also a host of materials
that include recycled-product content that can be more affordable
than conventional products and at the same time help reduce
the amount of waste deposited in landfills.
The following resources provide information on
alternative building approaches.
Housing and Standards, from the
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), offers
information on purchasing, installing and caring for manufactured
homes, and the process for filing complaints regarding their
A Model For Sustainable Living spotlights the elements and benefits of cohousing, or "shared
of Straw--Straw Bale Construction Comes of Age
is a U.S. Department of Energy publication that
discusses the technique of straw-bale construction and its benefits.
Included are answers to frequently-asked questions, as well
as a list of resources for additional information.
offers information on buying an energy-efficient
manufactured home, as well as links to manufactured housing
links and contacts.
Age of Building Materials Becoming Common Place in Homes
gives a brief introduction to "engineered building
materials" as an alternative to expensive, conventional products.
Housing Association aims to to
"maintain a conducive regulatory and legislative environment
that ensures the quality of manufactured homes without sacrificing
affordability." OMHA also "focuses on education concerning the
tremendous advances made in aesthetic s and quality of today's
manufactured homes, ensuring the availability of competitive
financing for potential homeowners, and removing zoning and
land-use barriers based on outdated perceptions." Website includes
links to other manufactured housing sites.
Housing: Manufactured Homes (PDF) is a fact sheet produced
by the Cooperative Extension Service at the University of Illinois
at Urbana-Champaign. This publication discusses the benefits
of manufactured housing, including affordability, energy-efficiency
features, and safety.
The cost of installing energy-efficiency features
in new and existing homes can be financed through special types
of mortgages called energy-efficient mortgages (EEM) and energy
improvement mortgages (EIM) . EEMs and EIMs also can allow a
buyer to qualify for a higher mortgage, because the reduction
in utility bills allows more debt.
The following resources offer more information
on the types of mortgages and other financing issues.
(Residential Energy Services Network) offers an excellent primer on home energy rating systems and
energy-efficient mortgages, as well as contact information for
HERS programs across the country, and lists certified home energy
raters and lenders offering EEMs.
The Alliance to Save Energy
offers on its website consumer and lender
resources for energy-efficiency financing and HERS.
Included are a brief overview and a lender's guide about energy
efficiency financing, a national directory of lenders, links
to HERS/EEM organizations and an energy-efficient mortgage guide
for the homeowner.
The Green Communities Initiative, a partnership of The Enterprise Foundation/Enterprise Social Investment Corporation (ESIC) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), along with the American Institute of Architects, the American Planning Association, and top corporate, financial and philanthropic organizations, is a five-year, $550 million commitment to build more than 8,500 environmentally friendly affordable homes across the country. The initiative offers financing, grants and technical assistance to developers to build affordable housing that promotes health, conserves energy and natural resources and provides easy access to jobs, schools and services.
Modular Homes Project is successfully using lessons
learned through Building America projects around the country,
and creating energy-efficient and affordable homes for residents
in Carbondale, Colorado.
New Life describes a community
development organization working to revitalize a low-income
community in Chicago, including the development of affordable
housing using energy-efficient designs.
America projects built under the DOE program to encourage
energy efficiency include a 52-unit development in Carbondale,
Colorado, that relies on energy efficiency to make single- and
multi-family homes affordable for residents.
Casas de Don
Juan are two single-family homes built in Santa Fe,
New Mexico, as part of an affordable housing program. The homes
include natural lighting, energy efficiency, on-site water catchment
and the use of locally-available materials.
Resource-Efficient Home Plan is a resource-efficient
affordable home plan that is available for sale, or free to
nonprofit organizations. It is designed to use 20 percent less
energy per year than a comparable house built to Oregon code,
both preserving the environment and saving money. Demonstrations
of the plan have been built.
Building Project is a three-unit affordable housing
project in Emeryville, California, that incorporates resource
and energy-efficiency measures; use of recycled, durable, non-toxic
building materials; and job-site recycling.
Homes (pdf) is a 50-unit, low-income housing development
in Boston, Massachusetts, that incorporates energy efficiency
measures, manufactured components to reduce waste and labor
costs and infill of existing neighborhoods.
Neighbors: Affordable Family Housing is a website that
includes case studies of affordable housing developments in
five regions of the United States. The projects profiled emphasize
participation in long-term community planning as a strategy
for improving community livability.
profiles a home, built in conjunction with Habitat
for Humanity in Washington, D.C., that incorporates affordable,
green building features.
Habitat for Humanity Sees
Affordability in Energy-Efficient Homes discusses Habitat for Humanityís efforts at incorporating
energy-efficient, environmentally-friendly features in its affordable
Practices' Case Study Book - Communities at Work: Addressing
the Urban Challenge
profiles the winners and finalists in the National Excellence
Awards for The City Summit (Habitat II).
Street Village, an affordable housing complex built
on a reclaimed brownfield site in St. Paul, Minnesota, uses
energy-smart materials and practices to keep residents' utility
bills low while promoting environmental and human health.
Housing Rehabilitation for Sustainability and Affordability
describes a renovation project at Johnson Creek Commons, a 15-unit
apartment complex near Portland, Oregon. Johnson Creek Commons
was built in 1973 and rehabilitated in 1998 with sustainable
materials to provide affordable housing. The project report
is provided in PDF format.
profiles the energy-efficiency features of a Habitat
for Humanity house in Lynchburg, Virginia.
Carolina Solar Center explains this state clearinghouse
for solar energy information, education and technical assistance.
Its programs include the Energy-Efficient Affordable Housing
Program, which offers home builders assistance with implementing
energy-efficient technologies by providing design reviews, energy
audits and help in the actual construction of the home.
Technology Inventory links to a number of innovative
housing projects throughout the U.S. that accomplish durability,
quality, environmental performance, energy efficiency and affordability. Specifically, the PATH Concept Home demonstrates advanced technologies and building practices that hold potential for making home design and construction more efficient, predictable, and controllable. These methods will result in cost savings that will make homeownership available to an estimated 90 percent of the population by 2010.
Place describes a Minneapolis, Minnesota project designed
to revitalize an urban neighborhood by transforming substandard
rentals into 52 owner-occupied homes. The project began with
four homes constructed in a Habitat for Humanity blitzbuild.
The homes feature energy efficiency and healthy designs.
Demonstration describes a non-profit project in Missoula,
Montana to develop two strawbale homes that achieve both affordability
and resource efficiency.
The Sustainable Development / Affordable Housing Pilot Program of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs Division of Housing and Community Resources is determining how to incorporate sustainable design principles and energy efficiency into affordable housing through demonstration projects.
Green on a Budget addresses green design techniques,
products and energy systems that can help keep the cost of affordable
sustainable housing down.
Community Guide to Basic and Cost-Saving Construction in the
American Southwest was produced by the U.S. Department
of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for nonprofit housing
developers, local housing advocates, self-help homeowners, and
community groups that provide housing in the rural Southwest.
The publication is intended to showcase the cost benefits of
energy-efficient home construction and rehabilitation. Available
for $5 from HUDUSER.
Housing Rehabilitation for Sustainability and Affordability
(pdf) is a report studying the effect of the rehabilitiation
of Johnson Creek Commons, an apartment complex rehabilitated
for affordability and sustainability.
Building Residential Rehabilitation Guidebook, produced
by the City of Los Angeles and Global Green USA, serves as a
compendium of healthy, efficient, and affordable building strategies
for residential rehabilitation projects. (Note: Adobe Acrobat 4.0
is required to open this publication. Version 3.0 will not read
Resource Guide, produced by the American Institute of Architects
includes assessments, articles and case studies of the environmental
and resource qualities of building methods and materials.
Guide to Resource Efficient
Building Elements discusses resource-efficient
building materials and includes more than 100 manufacturers.
A Primer on Sustainable
Building offers useful discussion
on sustainable building, including chapters
on green building design, site selection, site development, building placement and configuration, the building
envelope, energy use inside the building, conserving
water, and building ecology. Available from: Rocky Mountain Institute.
Publications Guide: Energy-Efficient
Manufactured Housing identifies more than 50 manufactured housing reports and other
publications produced by the Bonneville
Power Administration (BPA). Since the mid-1980s, BPA has actively
promoted programs to increase the energy efficiency of electrically
heated manufactured homes in the Northwest.
Product Information from Oikos Green Building
Source identifies sustainable building products in a number
of categories. The website is searchable.
Sourcebook, created by the City
of Austin Green Builder Program, focuses on alternative building
approaches and sustainable construction materials. Identifies
information and resources related to affordable, resource-efficient
Building Technical Manual, produced
jointly by the U.S. Department of Energy, Public Technology,
Inc., the U.S. Green Building Council, and the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency, shows how to design, operate, and maintain
environmentally friendly buildings. Includes chapters on energy-efficient
design and green building materials.
Analysis of the Effects of the GSE Affordable Goals on Low-
and Moderate Income Families
A report that describes how Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac helped
reduce the disparity between homeownership rates for low- and
moderate income families by purchasing more loans originated
to low-income families and increasing their overall market share
in the conventional conforming mortgage market.
Design Advisor was developed to help anyone involved
in the production of affordable housing achieve higher design
quality. It is full of useful--and usable--information that
can be accessed in a variety of ways. The website includes information
about the essential issues of design in affordable housing,
ideas and examples of great affordable housing, the Design Considerations
Checklist and mini-lectures where experienced experts in various
fields of the design and development of affordable housing give
quick, targeted overviews of important issues.
Energy Source Builder
is a newsletter that focused on energy-efficient
construction topics for heating climates. Back issues are available
STAR is a program of the U.S. EPA
and DOE that aims to help create homes that use at least 30
percent less energy than required by the national Model Energy
Code, while maintaining or improving indoor air quality. Because
they are more energy-efficient, homes certified under the program
cost less to operate.
Databases & Design Resources identifies resources for sustainable building products, materials
and design assistance.
Affordable Housing Initiative is
a component of Global Green USA's emerging Resource-Efficient,
Sustainable Communities in the Urban Environment (RESCUE) program.
Its goal is to: "reduce resource consumption and foster sustainable
communities by encouraging the design, construction, and maintenance
of affordable, resource-efficient housing around the globe."
Energy Institute works with nonprofit
organizations to help make affordable housing more resource-efficient.
Website includes links to information on affordable housing,
energy-efficient construction and other topics.
Sustainable Building Design
Coalition is a network of individuals
interested in sustainable and ecological building, design and
development. It aims to facilitate education on these topics.
Design Resources identifies books
and videos that focus on sustainable building design issues.
Last updated: January 28, 2005