2015 Enterprise Green Communities Criteria to Deliver Benefits of Green Affordable Housing Nationwide

Working with partners, Enterprise aims to make the cost-effective standards the required baseline for all affordable housing development

COLUMBIA, Md. – April 7, 2015 – Building on more than 10 years of leadership in green affordable housing, Enterprise Community Partners Inc. (Enterprise) today released the 2015 Enterprise Green Communities Criteria (Criteria). Introduced in 2004, the Criteria emerged as the first national standard for affordable housing developers to extend the economic, health and environmental benefits of green building without compromising affordability. Working with its partners, including the American Heart Association, Enterprise aims to make the Criteria the required baseline for all affordable housing development nationwide. 

“Home is the foundation of opportunity. By aligning investment strategies with environmentally responsible building practices, Enterprise and our partners are leading the national effort to ensure that people are healthier, spend less money on utilities and have more opportunities through connections to jobs, good schools, transit and health care,” said Terri Ludwig, president and CEO of Enterprise Community Partners. “It all begins with homes that people can afford.”

Suitable for all development types, including new construction, substantial rehab and moderate rehab in both multifamily and single-family properties, the 2015 Criteria incorporate for the first time resilient design features to maintain livable conditions during climate change, natural disasters, power loss and other interruptions in available services. The Criteria also harness the power of design to improve residents’ health through new mandatory “Active Design” criteria including simple, cost-effective measures like improving stairwell access and visibility. 

Low-income communities experience disproportionately high rates of obesity, heart disease, diabetes and mental health issues. Merely two minutes of daily stair-climbing burns enough calories to prevent annual weight gain, while prominent stairwells encourage social interactions, which can improve mental health.  

“At the American Heart Association, we understand that healthy, high-quality affordable housing has the potential to help address some of the most urgent health challenges facing low-income families and communities today,” said Nancy Brown, chief executive officer at the American Heart Association, which served as a scientific advisor to Enterprise in support of the 2015 Criteria. “With the strong focus on improving family and community health, the Criteria align directly with our mission to build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.”

Developments that meet the Criteria will exhibit improved occupant health and well-being through reduced exposure to environmental pollutants, improved connectivity to services and walkable neighborhoods and good lighting. The benefits extend beyond the occupants to the neighboring communities by supporting local services and activating neighborhood streets, as well as improving water quality and reducing the impact of storm water run-off on neighboring sewer systems.

Support for developing the 2015 Criteria was provided by Enterprise’s strong network of partners, who contributed to a technical working group, criteria advisory group and policy working group. Advisors who guided Enterprise through the process of more holistically integrating health into the 2015 Criteria include the U.S. Green Building Council, the University of Virginia and the Health Impact Project. Support for this work was provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The American Heart Association and New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene also advised Enterprise.

The U.S. is in the midst of a broad housing insecurity crisis that is affecting nearly 19 million low-income families who are homeless or paying more than half of their monthly income on housing. Enterprise’s generational goal is to end housing insecurity in the U.S., which means no more homelessness and no more families paying more than half of their income on housing. As a down payment toward that goal, by 2020 Enterprise will help provide opportunity to 1 million low-income families through quality affordable housing and connections to jobs, good schools, transit and health care.

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