The first affordable housing development in the country has received joint certification under the Enterprise Green Communities and WELL Building Standards, according to an announcement from Enterprise Community Partners and the International Well Building Institute (IWBI). The designation goes to Thessalonica Court, a rehabilitated apartment building located in the Bronx of New York.
Jonathan Rose Companies led the rehabilitation, being one of hundreds of developers nationwide that have opted to create more efficient, resilient, sustainable and healthy affordable homes. For the first time in the 18-year history of Enterprise Green Communities, those meeting the criteria now receive joint certification with the WELL framework.
“By prioritizing resident well-being and building a collective commitment to environmental sustainability, Enterprise Green Communities fundamentally changed how developers create affordable homes,” said Rose Companies President Jonathan F.P. Rose. “Now, with joint certification from Enterprise and IWBI, properties like Thessalonica Court and thousands more to come have the framework and tools to meet our 21st-century challenges so that people and nature can thrive together.”
Thessalonica Court Builds for Sustainable Health and Wellbeing
The newly renovated Thessalonica Court encompasses 191 affordable homes in the Mott Haven neighborhood in the Bronx. In aiming to meet with the criteria and framework behind the WELL and Green Communities certifications, the building owners prioritized non-toxic building products to protect the health of the environment and residents, while also safeguarding against extreme rainfall events.
Efficient water fixtures and lighting will save energy for both the owners and residents. New indigenous plantings, a community garden and an outdoor play area that reduces the urban heat island effect will make the complex an inviting home for families throughout the community.
Highlights of the well-being benefits from the Thessalonica Court development include improved air and water quality, better lighting and sound environments, facilities that promote an active lifestyle, and operational protocols that focus on resident health and safety.
“The homes we live in can either compromise our health and wellbeing or help us flourish, and the COVID-19 pandemic has crystalized the brutal reality of the health inequities in our communities,” said Rachel Hodgdon, President and CEO of IWBI. “That’s why we are so excited to celebrate the availability of these green, healthy, affordable homes and this milestone moment in our collaboration with Enterprise. We commend Jonathan Rose Companies for its continued leadership to transform communities into places where everyone can thrive.”
Enabling Communities to Better Achieve ESG Goals
Following the announcement of the partnership with IWBI in late 2019, Enterprise selected 20 affordable housing developments comprising more than 500 new and rehabilitated homes across 12 states and the District of Columbia to represent early adopters of the new joint certification program, which include a cross-section of developments that span urban, suburban and rural landscapes.
In the first cohort of developments pursuing joint certification, 25% intend to be all-electric, advancing critical decarbonization efforts to limit the impact of climate change. As part of the integrated certification effort, the developments are required to perform a multi-hazard risk and vulnerabilities assessment to gauge and improve their property’s ability to withstand an extreme weather event or emergency. These developers are also committed to advancing community resilience by meeting the requirements to form cultural advisory groups and conduct cultural-resilience assessments with and for their communities.
Developments can opt to become Certified or Certified Plus based on their goals for reducing property emissions. Three developments in this first group of 20 are pursuing the “plus” level of certification and making strides toward net-zero-energy through advanced building-envelope performance.
Enterprise Green Communities certification is available to any housing development in the United States with affordable homes. To date, almost 130,000 affordable homes nationwide are Green Communities certified, and 30 states require or encourage developers seeking affordable housing funding to follow the Green Communities Criteria.