Green affordable housing is coming to the District of Columbia. The Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) and the Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) have been selected as one of seven teams across the United States that will participate in the Living Building Challenge Affordable Housing Pilot Project. The project aims to create buildings that are comprised entirely of sustainable building materials and that will harvest all their energy and water onsite.
With this opportunity, the District hopes to become a model for green affordable housing that will help low and middle-class residents save money on utility bills and own sustainable homes. The District will be the only city on the East Coast to participate in this opportunity thus far.
The project could be completed as early as late Fall 2017, according to Department of Energy and the Environment spokesperson Julia Christian. DHCD and DOEE will aim to attain a rigorous green building performance standard certification set by the Living Building Challenge, but cannot apply until the project has been fully occupied for one full year. Over the course of the next year and a half, the seven U.S. teams will work toward creating development projects that can meet the Living Building Challenge certification.
The area slated for this project to take place is a formerly vacant site in the Deanwood neighborhood. The site will now house 10-15 equitable, mixed-income townhouses that will offer a cutting edge affordable and environmentally-restorative design.
“Since the Green Building Act (2006) was passed, all publicly-financed residential projects must adhere to Enterprise Green Communities Criteria, a nationally recognized sustainability standard specifically designed for affordable housing,” Christian said.
The District will receive no direct funding for this project. The International Living Future Institute provides an assistance package that includes “hundreds of hours of documentation review, facilitation, and other technical expertise at no cost,” according to a September 3 press release. The District will also be in a group of other pilot projects, learning and sharing best practices with the other teams.
This project is an outcome of a partnership between DHCD, DOEE, and the DC Living Building Challenge Collaborative–a group of local professional volunteers that are committed to sustainability, education and implementation of the Living Building Challenge. These volunteers formed 20 multidisciplinary design teams that worked for six months to develop concepts for the Deanwood site in the 2015 D.C. Affordable Living Design Competition. The concepts the team presented inspired DHCD and DOEE to explore how to implement a Living Building Challenge project.
“This is an opportunity for the District to lead by example and create cost-effective, net-positive energy, healthy homes with reduced utility bills for low-and moderate-income District residents,” Christian said. “The District will certainly look to implement the best-practices from this project in other developments throughout the city.”