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Is It Possible to Build Affordable Homes That Are Also Energy Efficient?

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Energy Efficiency

Is It Possible to Build Affordable Homes That Are Also Energy Efficient?

These developers see no reason why affordable housing can't also be sustainable

June 25, 2023
Showing how affordable housing can also be sustainable
Image: New Africa / stock.adobe.com

While sustainability is generally promoted as a luxury amenity, with energy-efficient features marketed as a selling point for upscale residential and retail development, Hillcrest Village, a new affordable housing project in Northfield, Minn., is challenging the idea that sustainability and affordability can't coexist. Energy News Network reports on the Hillcrest Village project and gets insights from several developers who believe incorporating sustainability and energy-saving metrics can ultimately translate into increased affordability.

Hillcrest Village is virtually indistinguishable from its market-rate counterparts. Yet, while it offers rents far below the median for the area, the development also boasts an 84-kilowatt solar array and net-zero energy use.

The Northfield development challenges the notion that sustainability and affordability are mutually exclusive — if the definition of each is expanded to accommodate the greater public good of making the necessary upfront investment. The $5.5 million project was funded by both private investment and public funds. It serves as an example of a growing recognition on both the municipal and federal levels that subsidies are both necessary and a legitimate means of squaring the numbers for affordable and sustainable housing. 

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