A Sustainable Approach to Affordable Housing
Thoughts from a member of our Team as a leader in the affordable housing industry
Sustainability Program Analyst
The word ‘sustainability’ has taken on many meanings over the last decade as the world has come to terms with the consequences of climate change. While our understanding of what it is to be sustainable hasn’t changed, our appreciation for nuances and complexity around the concepts of sustainability is growing. Appreciating this is important in the context of developing and preserving affordable housing. As Archway strives to do our part to expand the supply of affordable units, we must understand the political, social, economic and environmental contexts in which we are developing and serving. This will help us chart the course for greater sustainability in our work.
While there are many important aspects of sustainability, critical to Archway’s mission is focusing on energy efficiency. There are many reasons why this is true including city, state and federal efficiency mandates, cost savings for both Archway and residents, reducing Archway’s carbon footprint and increasing the quality of life and services we can offer Archway residents. Achieving particular benchmarks of energy efficiency across Archway’s portfolio will be no small task. This is true for many reasons including the fact that more energy efficient systems tend to be far more expensive to install and are frequently more difficult to use and maintain. It’s also the case that allocating time and resources to understanding and addressing this problem is time consuming. For companies like Archway, whose staff is already spread thin, it can be difficult to properly address such issues. In short, it’s easier to NOT be sustainable. However, there is ever more light at the end of this seemingly dark and perilous tunnel and most recently it has come in the form of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).
The IRA , ostensibly designed to target and cool down inflation, is broadly designed to move our country toward a more sustainable and energy efficient economy. What is particularly exciting about this, for Archway, are the provisions included that help corporations and individuals gain access to technology that are currently cost prohibitive. While the specific provisions are complex, it’s my role to help Archway understand them and apply them to our portfolio to the greatest possible extent. If successful, our efforts can help Archway gain access to a federal reservoir of billions of dollars for solar arrays, for energy efficiency upgrades, for EV charging ports, and much more. This is a tremendous opportunity for Archway and while we are still in the early stages of navigating it, we are seeing real projects get done with IRA credits and funding.
So where does Archway go from here? What are our objectives and how do we plan to achieve them over the next few years? I believe the most important part of this journey will be committing to full scale integration. Archway must consider working sustainability and incorporating efficiency directives into every step of development and service. We must establish our baseline by properly benchmarking our energy use across our portfolio and take advantage of the resources available to us through Energy Outreach Colorado to bring our efficiency scores up year after year. We will need to consider taking advantage of the IRA’s new solar tax credits so that we might have an array on every new development and take advantage of the low cost financing available through the likes of Colorado Clean Energy Fund to add arrays to existing properties.
Most importantly, we will need to continue to allocate time and resources towards organizing and addressing the barriers that stand between Archway and a more efficient portfolio. With that commitment, the rest will follow.
If you are interested in supporting Archway’s sustainability efforts, please contact Dominic at email@example.com.