EAH greens its portfolio, creating a model for environmentally friendly affordable housing
EAH Housing launched a company-wide proposal called the Building Sustainable Communities Initiative to ensure that all aspects of the organization, from property management to real estate development, reflect a commitment to sustainability.
The inaugural phase of the Building Sustainable Communities Initiative emphasizes environmental stewardship. To-date EAH Housing has conducted green retrofits on 30 properties. In total, more than 1,000 units received weatherization upgrades, energy efficient lights and appliances, drought resistant native plant landscaping, and solar panel installation.
This phase of the initiative also supported the EAH Housing Real Estate Management and Operations staff as they began implementation of the Green Operations and Maintenance Best Practices Manual. The manual is a comprehensive approach to green management that is shared as a model with other nonprofits.
In 2011, the California Sustainability Alliance recognized EAH Housing for its green programs, awarding the company an Honorable Mention in the 2011 California Sustainability Alliance Annual Showcase. EAH was also designated an official Bay Area Green Business, joining over 2,000 other companies and public agencies in the San Francisco Bay Area who have been recognized by the Association of Bay Area Governments for their commitment to sustainability.
“We operate with the belief that every action can have a positive impact on the community, and on our world. The reach of this impact is wider than simply choosing green cleaning materials or replacing lights,” said Laura Hall, Chief Operating Officer at EAH Housing. “It’s our vision, guided by our mission to create communities that are sustainable on all levels.”
EAH Housing has maximized leveraging opportunities from grants, loans, rebate programs, donations, and resources within the company to invest $4.5 million in green programs. Grant support was provided by the Marin Community Foundation, Enterprise Community Partners, the Contra Costa County Neighborhood Grants, Union Bank, Bank of America, and the Wells Fargo Foundation.
“We are impressed by the commitment and drive that has moved EAH Housing forward so profoundly and so quickly, especially in these challenging times,” said Walker Wells, Director of Global Green’s Green Urbanism Program. “This level of commitment illustrates just how vital sustainable efforts are, not only for our planet, but for investing in the economy and the future we all share.”
EAH Housing has in its portfolio, the first and only LEED certified affordable housing community in Marin County, CA. The development, called Drake's Way, features a number of sustainable elements in its design and construction including a solar powered community room, recycled building materials, and native plant landscaping, which earned the property its prestigious LEED Silver rating. Drake's Way keeps cars off the road and promotes healthy lifestyles by allowing residents to live within walking distance of public transit, shops, offices, entertainment, parks, and a child care center.
In 2006, before the BSCI was formally launched, EAH Housing carried out its first major solar project. Partnering with the Berkeley based Sun Light and Power, EAH installed a photovoltaic (PV) system at the housing community Crescent Park, in Richmond, CA. The PV system provides nearly a megawatt of clean energy, covering 60 to 80 percent of the community’s electrical needs. With 378 rental units running mostly on solar power, Crescent Park is the largest solar powered affordable housing community in the country. The $8 million dollar PV system will replace an estimated 14,000 tons of CO2 emissions that conventional electricity would have generated.
“We have another 41 properties in line, ready to shine more renewable energy into 7 counties,” said Mary Murtagh, President and CEO. “It’s not just new developments that can help us build a new future; it’s using what we already have in a smart way.”
Building Sustainable Communities Initiative will, in time, see the greening of all EAH Housing properties. “We have long believed that all affordable housing is green,” said Ms. Murtagh. “With this initiative, EAH Housing is reaffirming our commitment to create communities that can thrive, for their residents, and for our world.”