A community of 191 homes in New York City’s Mott Haven neighborhood in the Bronx is the first in the nation to meet a newly integrated set of criteria that is designed to promote affordable housing in America that is both environmentally sound and supports the health and well-being of its residents.

Following a moderate rehabilitation led by Jonathan Rose Companies, the new heating and water system at Thessalonica Court will help keep bills down while making sure residents can enjoy quality drinking water. A shaded playground will promote fitness and provides protection on hot summer days.

In short, it’s a model for the future of green and sustainable affordable homes in America.

Enterprise facilitated the creation of the 2020 Green Communities Criteria – the latest iteration of the innovative standard – together with hundreds of housing and sustainability stakeholders, including Healthy Building Network, Mithun and Tohn Environmental Strategies. The International Well Building Institute (IWBI) also participated and announced that all properties certifying to the 2020 Green Communities Criteria would also receive certification under WELL. The opportunity to be jointly certified as green and healthy is unprecedented in the building industry – and especially significant, given the affordable housing sector’s history of health and environmental inequities.

Since the 2020 Criteria’s launch two years ago, enthusiasm for the joint-certification program has surpassed our expectations.

Already, in addition to Thessalonica Court, more than 150 developments have stepped up to pursue joint certification using the 2020 Criteria. From Fort Worth, Texas, and Washington, D.C., to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and throughout the country, these developers have established themselves as leaders and early adopters by putting residents’ voices first. The developments feature gathering spaces, community gardens, and social, employment and community services and more that are committed to enhancing the quality of life for a wide range of individuals and families, including seniors who want to age in place and people who have experienced chronic homelessness.

A Best-in-Class Pathway to Joint Certification

Working together, IWBI and Enterprise are proud to offer a best-in-class joint certification pathway within the Green Communities Criteria, focused on ensuring affordable homes advance health outcomes while promoting environmental sustainability. The integration of key aspects of WELL v2, the latest iteration of the premier WELL Building Standard, into the criteria offers affordable housing developers a flexible roadmap to achieve higher levels of health and well-being benefits that are firmly rooted in the latest scientific evidence and design best practices.

Our collective expertise helps developers prioritize residents’ health in the design, construction and operations of affordable homes. With well-being as the foundation of home, we hope to strike a meaningful difference that can translate into more health benefits such as lowering the risk of asthma and mental health challenges, and reducing emergency room visits and in-patient hospitalizations, all of which have been associated with unhealthy, unstable housing. Ultimately, we seek to help improve people’s life outcomes.

In the case of Thessalonica Court, achieving the joint certification of Enterprise Green Communities and WELL led to many advanced health-promoting strategies, including healthy building material screening, sealing around openings between apartments to minimize air leakage and increase comfort and cost-efficiency, improved air and water quality, a community garden to bring residents closer to nature, a physical fitness center along with visual signage to encourage taking the stairs, and other operational protocols such as a smoke-free building policy.

According to Enterprise’s review of data tracking over 4,000 properties, Green Communities certified developments have cut nearly $32 million in annual energy and water costs. The reduction in carbon emissions is equivalent to taking close to 20,000 cars off the road. Those efficiencies save individual households over $267 annually – dollars that families can invest in their health and well-being.

WELL v2 is the latest iteration of the WELL Building Standard (WELL), a globally applied roadmap to deploy people-first places for everyone everywhere. Since launch in 2014, WELL strategies have been adopted in almost 110 countries through more than three billion square feet of real estate in 30,000 plus locations.

We’re excited to highlight more Green Communities developments jointly certified by Enterprise and IWBI. We look forward to sharing early lessons learned and innovative strategies to advance the benefits of healthier, more sustainable affordable homes and promoting best practices along the way.

Keep an eye out for details to come, because we’re just getting started.

Through Green Communities, Enterprise set the standard – literally – for sustainability and green building practices across our industry, making affordable homes healthy, efficient and climate resilient. IWBI is the leading authority on transforming health and well-being with its people-first approach to buildings, organizations and communities. For more information on the Enterprise-IWBI collaboration that makes healthy, green and resilient affordable housing possible, please view our partnership announcement and watch a video about Thessalonica Court.