Sure, LEED and Energy Star-certified houses are great, but they can never make a difference on a large scale until low-income homes are included in the mix. Habitat for Humanity aims to bring green housing to all income levels with a $30 million program that will allow Habitat affiliates in 45 states to build 5,000 LEED and Energy Star-certified homes.
The five-year project, which is a partnership with the Home Depot Foundation, is the biggest and most accelerated Habitat green building initiative to date. Habitat affiliates will be given an extra $3,000 to bring homes up to Energy Star standards and $5,000 to bring homes to higher energy efficiency standards. By the end of 2010, almost 1,500 sustainable low-income homes will be built.
Despite the extra upfront costs to Habitat, the sustainable housing will save tenants lots of cash. During the program’s pilot phase, Habitat found that the homes used 15% to 30% less energy than standard homes. LEED Platinum low-income homes saved 50% in energy costs.
As of right now, only 20% to 30% of all Habitat for Humanity homes are built with energy-efficiency in mind. Habitat is, however, providing face-to-face training for its affiliates on how to construct green homes. So in the future, Habitat builders will be able to construct sustainable homes faster and more efficiently. Now all that’s left is to get more funding.