Fifteen years ago, the affordable housing sector was just beginning to grapple with how to develop and finance homes that were not only affordable, but also healthy, efficient, and environmentally responsible. There were few examples of green homes then, and fewer still of green, affordable, multifamily housing.
By launching Green Communities, Enterprise was taking a bold position. We were recognizing the value of well-designed affordable homes as core to our organization’s mission, and we were committing to discover what it would take to develop affordable green homes at scale.
Since 2004, we’ve accomplished a tremendous amount:
We’ve defined, and re-defined, “green” for our sector by deploying the only national green building criteria and certification program designed exclusively for affordable housing. We’ve impacted more than 127,000 affordable homes in nearly every state in the country.
We’ve integrated green building standards into city, state, and federal policies. Today, there are 27 states that require or incentivize Enterprise Green Communities as part of their affordable housing finance, more so than any other green building program.
We’ve leveraged capital, investing more than $3.9 billion in the development and preservation of green and affordable homes.
We’ve addressed the false choice between “affordable” or “sustainable,” through research into the incremental cost of green building.
And we’ve established hundreds of strong partnerships and collaborations with groups like yours—owners, developers, investors, builders, and experts in affordable housing development.
Our journey is far from over. Given the housing-affordability challenges we face today and the impacts we anticipate from our changing climate, creating affordable green homes remains critical as we step into the next decade. Healthy living environments with affordable utility expenses are possible, and they are fundamental to resilient communities. We in the affordable housing sector have the opportunity to make a difference.
This is why I am so pleased to recognize more than 15 years of impact through Enterprise Green Communities, and to welcome you to our 2020 Enterprise Green Communities Criteria — launching the next generation of this work at Enterprise in partnership with yours.
President, Enterprise Community Partners
Enterprise Green Communities is transforming the quality of affordable housing in America. Green building practices lead to healthy, efficient, and environmentally responsible homes—and as the Enterprise Green Communities Criteria is implemented at a large scale across communities, practitioners are setting a new standard for design and construction that addresses our changing climate, improves health and well-being of residents, and is economically viable for the long term.
As a community of affordable housing providers, we have an opportunity to give residents agency in designing their homes and to provide access to opportunities through connections to transportation, quality food, and critical services. Green building practices can be leveraged for all of this. Enterprise Green Communities aligns affordable housing investment strategies with environmentally responsive building practices.
2020 ENTERPRISE GREEN COMMUNITIES CRITERIA
The 2020 Enterprise Green Communities Criteria was developed to translate the collective expertise of leading housing and green building practitioners into a clear, cost-effective framework for all affordable housing development types.
The Criteria are suitable for New Construction, Substantial Rehab, and Moderate Rehab in multifamily and in single-family projects. Special considerations are also given for projects located in rural, tribal, and small town locations. Where relevant, exemptions based on project location or on development type are identified within each criterion.
Each of the criteria found in the Manual starts with a Rationale that describes the intended impact
and value of implementing the strategy described. That’s followed by a Requirement section that shares how an affordable housing team should go about achieving the intent of the criterion. Next, there’s a Recommendations section, which offers suggestions that go above and beyond the Requirements, for teams that are interested in pursuing the criterion deeply. Finally, each criterion includes a Resources section, with links to information that may be of use to teams as they consider and implement each strategy.
Enterprise Green Communities Certification is available for any housing project in the United States that includes affordable dwelling units.
Certification involves a two-step online submission and review process: Prebuild and Postbuild. Project teams submit their Prebuild application near the end of the design phase, prior to the start of construction. Project teams submit their Postbuild application shortly after the project has received its Certificate of Occupancy. Upon submission of each application, Enterprise Green Communities conducts a thorough review of the materials and provides feedback to the project team as necessary, clearly indicating whether the application was approved or needs further work. For projects that receive Prebuild as well as Postbuild approval, Enterprise Green Communities certifies that the Criteria were met in full and recognizes the project team for their accomplishment.
Two levels of certification are available: Enterprise Green Communities Certification and Enterprise Green Communities Certification Plus. Our new “Plus” level of certification recognizes significant achievement for projects that meet all certification requirements and have invested in deep levels of energy efficiency, a critical strategy in our changing climate.
All projects must achieve compliance with the mandatory Criteria measures applicable to their construction type. New Construction projects earning at least 40 optional points, and Substantial and Moderate Rehab projects achieving at least 35 optional points, will be recognized with Enterprise Green Communities Certification.
Projects that also comply with Criterion 5.2b Moving to Zero Energy: Near Zero Certification or Criterion 5.4 Achieving Zero Energy will be recognized with Enterprise Green Communities Certification Plus.
Enterprise provides tools and resources to assist with the design, development, and operations of affordable housing projects. Many of these can be found in the Enterprise Resource Center: www.enterprisecommunity.org/Resources.
For a full description of the Enterprise Green Communities certification process, including required parameters for the Prebuild and Postbuild submissions, visit www.enterprisecommunity.org/Green.
If you have questions about Enterprise Green Communities certification, email email@example.com.
The best parts of this document would not have been possible without the insights and assistance from the following individuals and organizations. Thank you.
2020 Criteria Technical Working Group
New Ecology, Inc.
Erin Christensen Ishizaki
International Living Future Institute
Dominic Ruiz and Nathan Stodola
International WELL Building Institute
Jonah Schein and
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, WaterSense
Healthy Building Network
Tohn Environmental Strategies
Raimi + Associates
2020 Criteria Advisory Group
Habitat for Humanity International
Capitol Hill Housing
LISC NYC, Green and Healthy Neighborhoods
Community Housing Partners
Healthy Building Network
Korbie Jorgensen Haley
Office of Rural and Farmworker Housing
Piedmont Housing Alliance
National Housing Trust
National Resource Defense Council
McCormack Baron Salazar
Lauren Zullo and
Jonathan Rose Companies
Special thanks to our Policy Working Group, including invaluable input from many of our longtime partners at the city, state, and federal level.
And to the ever-growing network of affordable housing developers and project teams applying the Enterprise Green Communities Criteria across the country, we applaud your commitment. This work is ever more important.
Thanks to all the Enterprise staff who provided valuable input to the 2020 Criteria. The Criteria development, review, and revision process was overseen by Krista Egger and Ray Demers. Any errors in this document are the sole responsibility of Enterprise Green Communities.
©2020 Enterprise Community Partners, Inc. All rights reserved.
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