Thursday, February 28

Green Built Housing Can Be Affordable

After listening to Brian Munson, a urban planner with Vanderwalle Assoc. in Madison, Wisconsin, describe the 300+ acre mixed-use project called Grandview Commons that incorporates different levels of affordable workforce housing (beginning at 60-70 % of median income) and includes green build features in many cases, I wondered if it was possible to develop low income (for persons at or below 80% of the area median income level).
I learned about a small project in Madison which was developed in 2004. Green Built Home certified a Madison [Wisconsin] Area Community Land Trust duplex that exceeds the program’s sustainable building and energy standards. The Madison Area Community Land Trust provides opportunities for affordable home ownership by acquiring land and selling the house, but not the land beneath it, to low and moderate income residents of Dane County earning 80% or less of the median county income. Long-term affordability is assured by a housing resale formula that limits appreciation but still allows homeowners a return on their investment.

The two-unit building was designed by Glueck Architects of Madison and built by Gilbert Construction Corporation of McFarland. The 2-bedroom unit is listed at $99,600 and the 3-bedroom unit has already sold for $111,600. For comparison, the average sale price for homes in Dane County in January was $229,209.

To receive Green Built certification a home must earn at least 50 points from the Green Built
Home Checklist, one of the most comprehensive green building rating tools in the country. This
home scored 66 points, far exceeding these standards.

Green Built Home certification ensures that the duplex is healthier, safer, more comfortable and more durable than a typical new home. The home meets criteria for erosion control, energy efficiency, waste reduction and recycling, indoor air quality, landscape conservation and materials efficiency and complies with Wisconsin Energy Star Home standards as well.

Thanks in part to a grant from Madison Gas and Electric, the duplex also offers homeowners
reduced energy and maintenance costs on an ongoing basis, helping to ensure that the home is
affordable to operate and maintain, not just purchase.

“Green building practices and materials save homeowners money in the long term and do not have to increase up-front costs,” says Nathan Engstrom, Green Built Home Program Director. “This project demonstrates that green building and affordability can go hand in hand.”

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