Energy Efficient Low Income Housing Can Benefit Entire Communities
As energy efficiency becomes more accessible to homeowners, it is also proving to be a viable addition to low-income housing. Taking advantage of federal tax credits and allocated state funds, several communities are making an effort to ensure everyone has the ability to be more energy efficient.
Baker Commons is a low-income public housing facility located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The local housing commission has set a goal to decrease energy usage by 20% at this particular space. Upgraded heating systems and energy efficient windows are among some of the changes made to the building. Communities in Sacramento and Pittsburgh at taking similar steps.
Since low-income housing typically cannot finalize these renovations in a timely manner, many residents pay much higher utility bills. They also are more than likely unable to update their own spaces due to financial concerns. How have places like Baker Commons been able to afford such an extensive task?
Landlords, utilities, banks, and even tenants are able to collaborate to bring clean energy to properties via networking forums such as the Network for Energy, Water, and Health in Affordable Buildings. When there is a space for the conversation on how to get the ball rolling on efficient installations, action can be taken much more quickly. The investors can gain information on how upgrades can benefit all of the stakeholders, not just the tenants.
It may be puzzling to question why the utility companies would invest in these situations. It seems that higher energy bills would be more beneficial to them. Building Energy Codes Manager at the Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships (NEEP) Darren Port states, "It is in their direct interest to invest in efficiencies. As the demand for power grows they have to generate more, but it is far more expensive to build new stations than to save energy in existing services."
When changes are made to low-income homes and their utility bills decrease, there are more advantages to the residents than monetary savings. Stress levels decrease for adults, as well as children. The tenants' money can be spent elsewhere in the community. Tenants are more likely to stay in their residence long-term.
Photo Source: Virginia Supportive Housing