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Green Building News

Affordable and Green Advance in New Jersey

A collaborative group of nonprofits in the state tackles a range of housing issues, including energy efficient real estate for low-income people

In the Garden State. Salt & Light Company’s four-bedroom, two-bath Mt. Holly model home, which features modular construction, 2,240 sq. ft. of living space and a 1,050-sq.-ft. basement.
Image Credit: Salt & Light Company Inc.

The push toward affordability in green construction long ago segued from the wishful and theoretical to the real world, so even though affordable green construction isn’t exactly widespread, there is plenty of tangible evidence that it is doable.

Homes built on infill lots by Community Housing Partners in Blacksburg, Virginia, blend architecturally with the rest of the neighborhood, but cost less than $100 a sq. ft. to construct.

In tornado-ravaged Greensburg, Kansas, Mennonite Housing Services led construction of 20 homes offering 940 to 1,050 sq. ft., efficient appliances, and well insulated walls and attics. The homes were offered to low-income buyers only.

In Columbus, Ohio, a group of teenagers built a LEED Platinum home, at a cost of about $150 per sq. ft.

Bread & Roses Housing, in Massachusetts, typically builds Energy Star-rated homes that it makes available to working families through a community land trust. And many of the academic teams that compete in the biennial Solar Decathlon focus on creating inexpensive, modular, net-zero-energy dwellings for low-income neighborhoods.

Also on this long and growing list is Affordable Homes Group, based in Eastampton, New Jersey. AHG is actually a collection of six corporations that operate collaboratively under a common board of trustees. The corporations address various housing issues and related social services for low-income people, seniors, and homeless people.

The AHG corporation that focuses on property development and management, The Salt & Light Company, is also the oldest of the group, having been formed in 1986, 14 years before AHG’s founding. Its renovation and new-construction projects (some of which are out of state) are designed to be energy efficient, and the new builds employ modular construction methods.

Salt & Light completed one of its first green single-family homes – which also featured a solar panel rooftop installation – in August 2006, when the home sold. The company has since followed that green lead with increasing thoroughness. With the growing availability – and decreasing costs – of eco-friendly materials and improvements in green building techniques, the company points out on its Web site, “no valid excuse exists for not bringing these materials into the design of a new home.”


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