Enterprise Green Communities 2020 is a recently published certification which aims to address challenges and goals presented by affordable housing providers. The program has its origins in developer Jim and Patty Rouse’s ambitious vision of ending poverty in the U.S. dating back to 1982. Since that time, the organization has flourished out of its roots in Washington, D.C. to become a leader in streamlining the simultaneous opportunity to provide more affordable housing at a lower environmental and economic cost to all stakeholders. Developers in the United States who are considering pursuing green building certification and/or affordable housing solutions are able to spearhead projects with Enterprise Green Communities Certifications which achieve both project goals at once, removing the barriers presented by non-affordable housing focused programs. Here are the top 5 things to know about this innovative new certification:

• Affordable Applicability – Enterprise Green Communities is available for any housing project in the United States that includes affordable dwelling units. A project does not have to consist entirely of affordable housing in order to pursue compliance. This flexibility allows as many affordable housing providers as possible to adopt green building practices which set a new standard for design and construction to increase resident health and wellbeing while being economically and environmentally viable for the long term.

• Stream-Lined Certification – To achieve certification, projects need to follow a two-step online submission and review process for PreBuild and PostBuild stages. This process provides project teams with clear, straightforward feedback indicating application compliance both during design and after construction. There are two levels of certification available: Enterprise Green Communities Certification, and Enterprise Green Communities Certification Plus. All New Construction Projects must achieve at least 40 optional points, and Substantial and Moderate Rehab Projects must achieve at least 35 optional points. The conditions for “Plus” Certification mandate that projects need to comply with one of two criteria which are focused on achieving Zero Energy performance. This is a new 2020 criteria which incorporates sustainable design considerations intended to set a new standard for green building practices as projects continue to improve performance and reduce the effects of costly energy deficits.

• Dynamic Criteria – Green Enterprise Communities updates its Criteria on a regular cycle every 4-6 years, allowing the program to adapt to advances in the field of green building, changing codes, and evolving green and energy programs. The most current iteration of the Criteria reflects the efforts of collective expert and designer advice as to the state-of-the-art industry trends across eight distinct categories while phasing out project criterion which are redundancies with updated codes or have now become the industry standard.

• Community Feedback Loop – Due to the fact that Enterprise Green Communities is specific to the United States, the Criteria are updated to reflect distinct domestic trends at the local, state, and federal levels. Enterprise Green Communities closely reflects the manner in which green building codes are changing throughout the U.S., having transformed policies at all levels of government. This close collaboration involves input from many leading national organizations with the intent of providing a clear, cost-effective framework for improving the quality of all affordable housing development types. This practice means any stakeholder can be certain that if they are pursuing an Enterprise Green Community Certification, they will be meeting the most robust and environmentally sound standards on the market.

• Straight-Forward Process – Enterprise Green Communities’ relatively low point requirement for meeting Certification combined with the resources and literature provided by Enterprise makes the process of obtaining Certification efficient and concise. This is essential in providing a high ROI and developing comprehensive marketing materials for prospective residents or investors. As of December 2019, this approach has helped to create and rehabilitate over 127,000 green, healthy homes.

More information about the Enterprise Green Communities Certification can be found at the link below, including additional resources, marketing material, and Criteria requirements. For information regarding VCA’s services to assist with your certification, contact Moe Fakih below.

Contributing Writer: Daryl Dingman, Project Administrator

Moe Fakih, Principal

VCA Green
714-363-4700 x501

2020 Enterprise Green Communities: https://www.greencommunitiesonline.org/