Sustainable building features aren't luxury add-ons for working-class homebuyers. Part of "affordability" means being able to pay the utility bills. And developers of affordable homes and apartments are ahead of their market-rate counterparts in North Carolina when it comes to incorporating environmental sustainability into their plans, said Chris Estes, executive director of the N.C. Housing Coalition, a group that advocates for more affordable housing.
An article in the NewsObserver.com says some of the impetus comes from incentives and requirements from the N.C. Housing Finance Agency, a clearinghouse for tax credits to build affordable housing.
The agency gives $4,000 incentives to non-profits and local governments for each home built to strict energy standards, said Bill Dowse, the agency's director of strategic investment. Recently, developers began earning an additional $1,000 grant for each home that meets a green-building standard, according to the article.
The article goes on to state that part of the deal for homes built to the energy standard is a guarantee to the homeowner that if heating and cooling costs exceed a set limit, usually $25 to $35 a month, an independent non-profit called Advanced Energy will reimburse the homeowner for the difference. The monthly cost for electricity, heating and air conditioning in the homes will be less than $100.