The “greening” of publicly funded affordable housing
By Kim Herman
Washington State Housing Finance Commission
Sustainable energy practices in our state were given a huge push forward in 2005 when the Washington State Legislature passed SB 5509, “Requiring public buildings to be built using high-performance green building standards.” This set in motion what is now known as the Evergreen Sustainable Development Standard (ESDS). Meeting this standard has been required of all projects funded through the Housing Trust Fund since July 2008—and since 2009, of all multifamily projects financed by the Commission as well.
The ESDS is made up of 79 criteria, developed by the Department of Commerce in cooperation with the affordable-housing industry, that “safeguard health and safety, increase durability, promote sustainable living, preserve the environment, and increase water and energy efficiency.” New construction projects must achieve at least 50 “points” by choosing from these criteria; rehab projects are required to meet at least 40 of these.
We believe the ESDS provides a healthy balance: protecting residents and the environment, without placing too heavy a burden on affordable housing developers.