Sustainable Homes

Sustainable Homes

Bringing Sustainability Home drives the transition toward an equitable clean energy future for all with green building strategies that impact the production and operation of quality, environmentally sustainable affordable homes. These practices empower affordable housing providers and residents to be part of the solution to climate change.

Through Sustainable Homes, affordable housing providers are equipped with the tools to:

  • Leverage existing and new utility programs to deliver the benefits of energy efficiency and renewable energy
  • Scale up resilient building construction, design, and operations to withstand the effects of climate change
  • Develop sector-specific carbon reduction strategies, such as beneficial electrification and community solar

Utility Programs

Through the advocacy efforts of Energy Efficiency for All (EEFA), certain utilities are expanding or improving the efficiency options available to multifamily affordable housing providers.  This set of program descriptions provide practical information on how you as a multifamily owner, manager, or resident can participate in utility- or state-funded efficiency programs that support capital improvements and improve building performance at your property.

SAHF also collaborates with EEFA to provide utilities with guidance on utility program design improvements. This guidance is designed to promote greater participation from affordable housing providers and ensures the equitable deployment of energy-saving solutions to residents of (subsidized) affordable housing.

Explore these case studies to learn why utility programs are so important to affordable housing providers like SAHF members:

  • EmPOWER-ing Maryland Case Study - By adopting best practices in program design, Maryland’s Multifamily Energy Efficiency and Housing Affordability - EmPOWER Program made an impact on Homes for America and its residents.  Learn about the program design features underlying this popular and effective program.

Download the Case Study

  • Leveraging Utility Programs Case Study - Learn how Mercy Housing leveraged utility programs and a pay-from-savings financing model to achieve deep levels of retrofits and greater utility savings for its multifamily affordable housing properties in California.

Download the Case Study

Building Resilience

For housing providers, understanding the vulnerability of their portfolios is a key step to preparing for and responding to future disruptions. Many resilience resources allow owners to assess an individual property’s risk, but for housing providers with multi-state portfolio, portfolio-level assessments held identify measures and allocate resources to protect residents and communities. SAHF conducted a mapping exercise to assess and visualize the locational risks of SAHF members’ portfolios. Other portfolio owners can conduct a similar exercise internally as well.

Visit SAHF's Building Climate Resilience page to learn more about how SAHF and members started their resilience planning process using existing tools and datasets.

Carbon Reduction

Through an ongoing partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Community Solar Partnership – Multifamily Affordable Housing Collaborative, SAHF collaborates with multifamily housing providers and other industry partners to develop and promote community solar models and best practices that broaden access to the benefits of solar for both owners and residents of affordable housing.

Decarbonizing the affordable housing sector builds on core sustainability practices. Decarbonization calls for doubling down on core practices of energy efficiency and renewable energy with a new emphasis on low-carbon energy sources and time-of-use management. The Passive House standard is an example of the deep level of efficiency needed to achieve a low-carbon future. Below are some additional resources from industry partners to support our transition to a low-carbon future:

  • Urban Green Council’s Going Electric: Retrofitting NYC’s Multifamily Building documents the current challenges and carbon reduction opportunities for building electrification in the multifamily sector. Although the report is focused on New York, the policy and program recommendations made can be applied to other U.S. regions and are critical to supporting and scaling up electrification in multifamily affordable housing.
  • The use of connected devices for energy management and demand response is another key strategy for carbon reduction that goes beyond the core energy efficiency and renewable energy practices being deployed today. Learn more about the kinds of opportunities SAHF and its members are piloting through ACEEE’s resources on Intelligent Efficiency.