LEED plays a key role in greening affordable housing
The federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) Program and state Qualified Allocation Plans (QAPs) that guide the distribution of tax credits have an outsized ability to promote green affordable housing in the United State. Global Green, with support from NeighborWorks America, recently released its much-anticipated 2016 report examining green building practices in each state’s QAP.
The report identifies leading policy trends, shares best practices and puts forward technical and policy options that can use the LIHTC program to promote human health and address overwhelming utility burdens. The results are clear: more state housing finance agencies are deploying LEED and other third-party green building rating systems as tools to ensure the environmental, economic and social benefits of sustainable building practices are brought to all.
Twenty-five state housing agencies referenced green building certification programs, including LEED, in their 2016 QAPs to provide direction to developers and confidence at the agency level that green measures are being implemented. In separate research examining 15 recently constructed or rehabbed apartment communities built to LEED or EarthCraft standards in Virginia, these communities were found to use 40 percent less energy than housing built to existing code requirements. These changes saved the average tenant $54 per month on utility bills—over $600 per year.
The new report shows that currently about half of state QAPs commit to help reduce overwhelming energy burdens for those most in need while protecting our environment. We’re pleased that LEED continues to be a key tool to help state housing finance agencies ensure that all residents, regardless of income, may enjoy the many benefits that green buildings deliver.
USGBC will continue to advocate for affordable green housing across the country, so that families everywhere can benefit from reduced financial pressure, a healthier indoor environment, increased comfort and quality housing.