Low-income housing starts going eco-friendly

Low-income housing, built in part with money from a special program of federal tax credits, has traditionally been low-cost, low-quality, and low-appeal. But the Enterprise Foundation is trying to change that with its Green Communities Initiative, investing $550 million over five years toward 8,500 units of affordable housing built to eco-friendly standards. Backed by investors ranging from Washington Mutual to Fannie Mae, the initiative aims “to show that, on a large enough scale, building green doesn’t cost anything extra,” says Enterprise chief Bart Harvey. The foundation has developed its own green building standards, partially based on the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program. Some states already give preferential treatment to low-income housing developers who pledge to go green; Enterprise hopes that their initiative will accelerate that trend.