WASHINGTON and NEW YORK - Two nonprofit organizations have launched billion-dollar programs to boost affordable green housing. Enterprise Community Partners Inc., a national nonprofit focusing on community development and affordable housing, announced a $4 billion commitment to the next generation of its Green Communities initiative. Enterprise said its efforts will result directly in the creation, preservation, or retrofit of 75,000 green homes and community and commercial buildings over the next five years. The group will provide loans to owners of existing multifamily buildings in key markets for capital purchases that will reduce energy and water consumption or will lead to more healthy living environments. Enterprise relies on support from a number of banks and foundations, and it is currently drawing on $2.5 million in grants for fundraising.

Enterprise also issued a national call to action to make all affordable housing in the United States meet green criteria by 2020. To provide background, the organization released a study showing the overall return on investment of meeting its Green Communities Criteria. Based on years of research, the report, “Incremental Cost, Measurable Savings: Enterprise Green Communities Criteria,” finds that the estimated lifetime savings exceed the initial investment by addressing energy efficiency and water conservation, as well as providing health and environmental benefits through the use of healthy materials and addressing indoor air quality.

A more local effort was launched when the New York-based Community Preservation Corporation (CPC), a nonprofit affordable housing lender, announced a new public-private partnership to provide $1 billion in construction and mortgage loans for energy-efficient upgrades and property retrofits. The loans will go to owners of affordable multifamily rental units and co-ops in New York State. CPC said it would identify needed energy efficiency improvements for each building through an energy audit. The goal is to increase fuel and electrical efficiency of existing apartment buildings by 20 percent or more, with the financing of retrofits for up to 15,000 apartments over the next few years. CPC is drawing on funds from Freddie Mac, New York State, and New York City public employee pension funds, private lenders, and other lending institutions. The anticipated retrofit work includes efficient and properly sized heating and hot water boilers, efficient heating and hot water controls, upgrading of ventilation systems, and air sealing and fire stopping.

Publication date:12/21/2009