Energy Efficiency and Affordable Housing: A Smart Investment

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Energy saving measures are not generally associated with affordable housing. For the most part, the pinnacles of energy saving features are generally associated with either high-performance and sustainable designs, or by parties with an unlimited budget and little regard for the bottom line, whatever the reason may be.

As a result of the difference in initial investment when compared to non-sustainable projects, it appears that energy-efficient projects are inherently a money pit, and the only reason to invest is if you are ideologically aligned with the environmental movement. As first glance, this is simply not practical for a business.

Howeve, a growing trend is making its way across America. We believe that it is in a development organization’s best interest to find all of the relevant information pertaining to this shift in methodology, and to compare it to how this can pertain to affordable housing.

In this post, we will cover the feasibility of energy efficiency in affordable housing and the perks for a developer that go hand in hand with choosing this path.



What is the appeal of sustainability?

Sustainable design offers a number of benefits for a development organization. Generally speaking, when a development offers a higher efficiency in its systems, the maintenance and repair fees are lower for the property owner. To add to this, systems that offer greater efficiency also offer a longer lifespan. Both of these points are a minor increase in initial investment when compared to the lifetime cost of the product, and they increase the quality of the product in the eye of the buyer substantially. In other words, they leverage quality for value.

The second major appeal to energy efficiency and sustainability in development projects have to do with the development organization’s brand. A development project is the most tangible and prominent brand communication channel that a development organization holds, and as a result of this, whenever there is a measurable amount of quality added to a development product, this reflects positively on the development organization’s reputation with all of the relevant brand publics.

In short, adding quality to a product helps increase a development organization’s image and visibility, ultimately driving better project opportunities in the long run.


How does this apply to affordable housing?

We are aware that there are budget limitations with affordable housing; subsidies can only go so far, and while pro bono work is a great thing, it is not sustainable for the organization to function below a certain profit margin. From this point of view, sustainability is simply not sustainable.

On top of this, sustainability is not a new shift in California. There has been sustainable design in California for decades – so why do we bring this up?

As a result of new techniques, materials, and methods of acquiring these materials, it has become much more friendly for builders to create a quality product while maintaining their target bottom line. This is the best of both worlds: a developer can still reach their target yield while also offering the highest quality product for the investment.

We have the ability to create energy-efficient and affordable houses without sacrificing the bottom line – and the difference in investment can be attributed to brand enhancement and quality of the product during the sale.

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