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HUD Encourages Green Public Housing


By Jessica Boehland

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Office of Public and Indian Housing has issued a notice encouraging the country’s 3,200 public housing agencies (PHAs) to use green strategies whenever they build, renovate, or maintain housing projects. Although the notice discusses stormwater management, water conservation, recycling, indoor air quality, and other topics, its focus is onsite renewable energy, including wind and solar power.

High Point
Photo © Doug J. Scott
Located in West Seattle, High Point is a development that will eventually provide 1,600 new houses, townhouses, condominiums, and apartments, as well as 20 acres of greenspace, for more than 4,000 people. The community is part of HUD’s HOPE VI program, and half of the housing units will be reserved for low-income residents. The homes are expected to use half the energy of conventional new homes.
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“Our PHAs spend 24% of their operating cost on utilities,” according to Richard Santangelo, P.E., a program manager in the Office of Public and Indian Housing. “HUD is always looking for ways to assist housing agencies in reducing utility operating costs and leveraging resources,” he says, and the notice is “a natural extension of HUD’s ongoing energy efficiency efforts.”

Santangelo says HUD had two objectives in issuing the notice. First, “the notice introduces renewable energy sources to PHAs as an approved energy conservation measure,” he says. Second, it reminds PHAs that “renewable energy measures can be funded under HUD’s incentives program under 24 CFR 990.185.” HUD allows PHAs to implement renewable energy and other green strategies “to the extent that affordability and availability of housing are not adversely affected,” according to Santangelo. HUD allows PHAs to use the savings resulting from energy conservation and generation strategies to amortize the up-front cost of implementing those strategies—over a period of up to 20 years.

PHAs have generally embraced the notice, says Santangelo, acknowledging that several PHAs, including those in Boston and Philadelphia, are already incorporating green strategies into the construction and rehabilitation of their housing projects. “Overall, energy-efficiency and renewable-energy measures contribute to the decent, safe, and sanitary housing for our residents and valued property assets for the local community,” he says.

The notice, titled “Renewable Energy and Green Construction Practices in Public Housing,” was issued June 11, 2008. It was a joint policy and research product of D&R International and the Office of Public Housing’s Management and Occupancy Division. The full notice is available at: www.hud.gov/offices/adm/hudclips/notices/pih/files/08-25PIHN.doc.

This article was produced by BuildingGreen, LLC.- www.buildinggreen.com

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