Release date: 4/13/2016
Three green innovations that cities could do to save energy and improve residents' quality of life
Washington, DC — As we approach Earth Day April 22, NeighborWorks America urges cities to practice these three innovations in green practices.
1. Think at the neighborhood scale.
Sprawl just seems to happen, but with the right planning, towns and neighborhoods could be more energy efficient and healthier. For example, a growing trend is the formation of an ecodistrict, a neighborhood where urban planning aims to reduce the ecological footprint — offering benefits such as reduction of transportation-induced greenhouse gas emissions and more green spaces for safe, secure social events.
Ecodistricts that incorporate a strong urban agriculture plan give people access to healthy, locally-grown food and offer economic opportunities such as farmers’ markets. Two NeighborWorks organizations work in ecodistricts.
2. Connect communities to transit.
A transit-oriented development (TOD) is a mixed-use residential and commercial area designed to increase access to public transportation. Transit-oriented development improves air quality, decreases auto traffic congestion, and saves public money by making the most of transit investments and cutting down on total infrastructure costs.
For example, NeighborWorks organization Urban Edge opened Jackson Commons, a green, mixed-use, mixed-income, transit-oriented development project in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston, MA. Transit-oriented development can link workers to employment centers, create construction and maintenance jobs, and has the potential to encourage investment in areas that have become economically depressed. A report found that shifting 60 percent of new growth to more compact transit-oriented development patterns would lead to 20 to 40 percent less driving, saving 79 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually by 2030.
3. Bring green benefits to rural communities.
Most of the single-family affordable housing in rural communities is factory built, either modular or manufactured. Older manufactured housing built before the new HUD energy savings standards of 1994 can be replaced with ENERGY STAR-rated Manufactured Homes. ENERGY STAR-rated homes save money for the residents; significantly lower energy costs means greater affordability for rural residents. NeighborWorks organizations serving rural communities are committing to replacing less efficient, older factory built housing with new ENERGY STAR-rated homes.
“Green, sustainable living can save people money, and also improve their health and well-being,” said Clare Rosenberger, senior manager of green strategies at NeighborWorks America. “Taking steps like increasing access to solar power will allow us to increase the number of green homes and green communities across the country and allow everyone — regardless of income — to benefit.”
Learn more about NeighborWorks America’s green work at NeighborWorks.org/green
About NeighborWorks America
For more than 35 years, NeighborWorks America, a national, nonpartisan nonprofit, has created opportunities for people to improve their lives and strengthen their communities by providing access to homeownership and to safe and affordable rental housing. In the last five years, NeighborWorks organizations have generated more than $27.2 billion in reinvestment in these communities. NeighborWorks America is the nation’s leading trainer of community development and affordable housing professionals.