by Miaoru Guan
The Sustainable Policy 201 Forum featured four speakers working towards sustainable, affordable housing through diverse but connected roles. Michelle Andry works at New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), where she focuses on energy efficiency, clean energy, and energy affordability initiatives impacting low-income housing. Francesca Camillo, Project Manager at NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), assists building owners in procuring funding for rehabilitation. Elizabeth Kelly, Manager of Sustainability Programs at The Community Preservation Corporation (CPC), leverages private capital to support sustainable multi-family housing and community revitalization projects. Andrea Mancino is Director of New Construction at Bright Power, and manages team members working on ground-up new construction and commissioning projects.
The panelists discussed how effective policy can encourage wider adoption of sustainable practices in housing by facilitating financing from government sources. For example, to qualify for government funding, new construction and rehabilitation buildings must receive building certification, such as Enterprise Green Communities or LEED certification. Mancino mentioned that achieving certification as an Enterprise Green Community requires buildings to outperform standard building code by 15%. Kelly discussed how these standards help the CPC and private lenders ensure projects have fulfilled a sustainability checklist, reducing the time projects spend in due diligence. Andry added that certified buildings are eligible for NYSERDA grants as well as HPD funding.
The panelists continued to discuss ways to increase the sustainability benefits even after affordable housing receives funding to begin environmentally-friendly projects. Mancino discussed training for building superintendents and owners to operate and maintain new equipment. Camillo spoke about the policies that ensure the buildings remain affordable, referencing the preservation loan programs administered by HPD that offer financing to property owners to rehabilitate buildings in need.
These preservation measures go hand-in-hand with the sustainability goals; energy-efficient buildings that serve the low-income community for many years help the environment and the community.
The Sustainable Policy 201 Forum honors the memory of Patty Noonan, a former activist who spearheaded community development in lower Manhattan in the 1970s. Although environmentally sustainable housing was not widely studied at the time, Patty Noonan advocated for and succeeded in pushing for sustainability in affordable housing in NYC. GreenHomeNYC organizes an annual forum to honor Patty Noonan’s passion and commitment to sustainability, and will continue the important dialogue set forth today in next year’s panel discussion.