April 4, 2011

The Greening of Public Housing

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Envision solar panels in rooftops, smart toilets that save water and energy efficient lighting fixtures. Doesn’t sound like public housing, right? But this vision of tomorrow’s public housing is happening today. We’re all looking for ways to cut energy costs and consumption, which is exactly why next week HUD is hosting “Going Green: Intelligent Investments for Public Housing,” a conference on April 12 – 13 at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel and Towers in Boston, Mass.

The two-day gathering will highlight how to make public housing more energy efficient and sustainable in its daily operations, including: cost-effective strategies to reduce energy and water consumption for housing operators and residents; discussions about sustainable construction; and building smarter with the latest energy efficient technology. Attendees will include public housing authorities, private energy sector groups, plus leaders in the green building movement.

Over the two days, attendees will hear from HUD Deputy Secretary Ron Sims, Massachusetts’s 9th District Congressman Stephen Lynch and landscape architect Tim Duggan from the Make It Right Foundation. This foundation was created by actor Brad Pitt to help rebuild homes in New Orleans’ lower Ninth Ward that were devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Participants can also see green building firsthand on a tour of Boston’s Maverick Landing, a HOPE VI development that incorporated green building practices during construction.

3 Responses to The Greening of Public Housing

  1. Cutting energy costs and consumption by going “Green” is a great way to go plus the green improvements of today look much better. A total nationwide green revamp could go a long way in stimulating the economy as well.

  2. I was glad to see that in fiscal year 2012 HUD is requesting $400 million for sustainable community initiatives. Of the $400 million, $150million would be designated for Sustainable Communities Regional Planning grant program, and $250 million would go to the Choice Neighborhoods program which would transform neighborhoods of extreme poverty.

    Creating sustainable public housing aligns with President Obama’s mission of “Winning the Future.” Sustainable building is ripe for innovation, has the potential to create jobs, and would help us reduce our dependence on exhaustive energy sources. Many health aliments have been linked to substandard housing, and since health care costs are a concern for our nation, creating green and healthy public housing could save us money spent on health care. It’s even been shown that test scores in green schools are improved due to fewer days missed due to illness.

    Although many of the investments that HUD must make in an effort to green public housing will cost more up front, they will save money in the long term. For example, a 2008 GAO report titled “Green Affordable Housing” states that the Seattle Housing authority saved $800,000 per year by replacing toilets in its properties with higher efficiency models. The GAO report states that HUD pays an estimated $500 billion in utility costs annually, and that an Energy Star certified home uses 30% less energy.

  3. It is a good idea to conserve energy in public housing. It will probably end up saving money in the long run, not forgetting the environment too. very good idea.

    Tony Bocsit

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