Green buildings are making inroads into the commercial space market segment. According to recent surveys, green buildings are on rise in the US. Almost half of all new U.S. retail shops and hotels are expected to go green by 2015. However, there is another market segment that is benefiting from this shift. Affordable housing communities are realizing the benefits of sustainable green buildings.
The current affordable housing market suffers from average quality houses that lead to problems such as poor ventilation, architectural design issues, toxic building materials, pest problems and health issues for families. The environment benefits of green house buildings translate into economic benefits for families living in affordable housing communities. Green buildings reduce the amount of waste generated. Further they also reduce the amount of hydro consumption leading to long term cost benefit. Other key economic benefits of green housing are house tax credits from the government and a healthy environment.
However, building green houses has challenges. Cost of building green housing is higher than normal houses. There are high upfront costs. Some of these projects have difficulty in quantifying benefits to attract funding from the government. Regulatory barriers can make it difficult to source green materials at cheaper and cost effective way. Some of the projects have difficulty in getting off the shelf because the contractors lack the skills and knowledge to build a sustainable community housing.
Colorado Court is one of the first buildings in the United States that is 100% energy independent. It is located at 502 Colorado Avenue, Santa Monica, California and is owned by Community Corporation of Santa Monica. Architected by Pugh Scarpa Kodama, this project was completed at a cost of $4.2 mn.
This project was funded by city of City of Santa Monica. This project provides 44 single resident occupancy units, community room, mail room, outdoor common courtyard spaces and on-grade covered parking for 20 cars. Although the project is credited to be 100% self-sustainable, its energy system had operating limitation to meet its objectives.
Sustainable housing not only enhances today’s community but also ensures quality of communities for the future. They area viable option for building affordable housing.
Santa Monica Office of Sustainability and the Environment, City of Santa Monica
Building Communities, the Importance of Affordable Green Housing by Erica R. Levin