Energy efficiency is increasingly viewed as an essential element of community development, and is arguably becoming the most appreciated and integrated “green” topic in the field. For example, a growing number of state housing finance agencies actively encourage the inclusion of energy-efficient features in the properties in which they invest.
The recent “Green Issue” of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco’s Community Development Investment Review focuses almost exclusively on energy efficiency programs, policies, and practices, and their connection to place-based asset building, health, and affordability. Here are some highlights from the issue:
- Practitioners describe advances in programs and policies that improve energy efficiency in building types as varied as multifamily , manufactured , and single-family homes.
- The National Housing Trust identifies emerging partnerships between community development organizations and energy utilities around the country.
- Financing products that are appropriate for underserved sectors, particularly multifamily rental housing, are explored through case studies in California , Illinois , and New York .
- The growing recognition and analytical understanding of the job creation benefits of energy efficiency (described in contributions by ACEEE’s Casey Bell and ACEEE Board Member Denise Fairchild of the Emerald Cities Collaborative) are articulated in terms that will likely resonate beyond the energy efficiency and community development communities.
Energy efficiency’s positive effects on community development and local economic opportunity are well established. It is encouraging to now see a growing community of practitioners developing a common language, a shared agenda, and a collection of innovative strategies to deliver on its promise.