Strategy of the Month: Green Affordable Housing Policy Toolkit

December 2010

As increasing evidence on the benefits of "going green" continues to gain attention, communities across the country are pursuing programs and policies specifically geared toward promoting green affordable housing. A new resource from Enterprise Community Partners, called the Green Affordable Housing Policy Toolkit, provides guidance to state and local governments on how to promote, shape, and implement green affordable housing policies. Developed as part of Enterprise´s Green Communities Initiative, the toolkit contains strategies, resources, and case studies of successful green building programs across the nation.

A photo of a worker installing a skylight.

In designing a green affordable housing program, the toolkit stresses the need for an integrated approach based on a clear set of policy goals. To ensure a solid framework, the toolkit suggests adopting third-party green building standards, such as Enterprise’s Green Communities Criteria and the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED rating systems. Legislative mandates, financial and development incentives, and technical assistance programs are listed as basic tools that localities can use to promote green affordable housing. For example, the city of Chicago, Illinois provides expedited permit processing as a development incentive to encourage green building, while Seattle, Washington and Portland, Oregon offer density bonuses to developers in exchange for building green. The toolkit also identifies stakeholder input and public engagement as a crucial step in establishing a green housing program. Additionally, it recommends creating a taskforce comprised of key players to help outline program parameters. As a best practice, the toolkit cites the role of the city of Boston’s green affordable housing task force in shaping the city’s green building program.

Policymakers can also find information on program implementation and case studies of various state and local green affordable housing programs in this toolkit. You can view the toolkit in its entirety at

We hope this information will assist communities as they continue to look for ways to promote green affordable housing development. If you have successfully implemented green housing programs, would like to share resources, or require assistance in identifying additional policy tools, research, or strategies available through our searchable online Clearinghouse database, email us at, or call us at 1-800-245-2691 (option 4), or visit our website at

Feel free to forward this message to friends and colleagues with an interest in sustainable affordable housing.