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Combining Green Building Innovations with Affordable Housing Needs

In recent years, interest and activities related to green building have been on the rise. As builders, architects, and code developers shift toward energy-efficiency and greater use of responsible materials in housing, the benefits of these shifts are also influencing affordable housing. Green building and affordable housing priorities intersect strongly around desires to reduce operating costs for building occupants, and they can also create synergies for supporting local needs and values, utilizing responsible materials, and designing self-sustaining sites with minimal environmental impacts.

The idea of combining green building innovations with affordable housing needs is new in some ways but the general overlap of interests is well established. Certainly, green building certification programs and formalized standards for green building are a recent development, but efforts to design efficient and affordable housing are not. As both conversations have developed over time, the opportunity to combine efforts has increased and crystallized.

This report provides an overview of the concept of “eco-affordable housing” and  identifies significant opportunities for adoption of green building innovations within the affordable housing sector. Several examples are included to illustrate the intersection between green and affordable within and outside North America, including China, where housing is a major challenge. As the interest in green building and the need for affordable housing continue to grow both domestically and internationally, building bridges between the two areas is likely to increase the impact of both.

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