Focus on efficiency in affordable housing at BPC Housing Policy Forum | U.S. Green Building Council
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Photo Credit: Bipartisan Policy Center
Photo Credit: Bipartisan Policy Center

Last Monday at the University of Southern California, I joined housing policy luminaries, including ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and former Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Henry Cisneros, at the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) Housing Commission Forum. The forum is a series of engagements around the country to discuss the need for robust housing policy reform.

The public forum featured discussions on a series of topics, including demographic trends impacting housing markets, efforts to link housing and healthcare to serve the most vulnerable populations, access to credit for perspective home buyers, and efforts to incentivize the adoption of energy efficiency measures in housing. These subjects and policy issues were covered in a recent report, "Housing America’s Future: New Directors for National Policy," released by the BPC Housing Commission earlier this year.

My panel on incentivizing efficiency served as a great opportunity to highlight the work of many leaders in the green building community who have helped expand efficiency in affordable housing. Walker Wells, of Global Green USA, highlighted ways that the low income housing tax credit has driven efficiency and health measures in tax credit programs. Many of these recommendations are included in Global Green's report on the Greening of the Qualified Allocation Plans. Kelly Smith from WegoWise provided valuable insight on existing benchmarking of building portfolios but called for further action to better maintain and enhance operations for affordable and market rate properties.

With more than a million households living in public housing units, it is laudable that the BPC Housing Commission has taken note of the benefits to HUD that come from resource efficiency upgrades. Support of this kind can only serve as a reminder that there should be attention to these places if Congress decides to move forward on energy efficiency legislation.

For more opportunities to learn about the greening of affordable housing, please join us at the Affordable Housing Summit at Greenbuild.

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