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N.C. Housing Agency To Receive National Environmental Protection Agency Award For Leadership in Energy-Efficient Housing

RALEIGH – An energy efficiency program that has saved North Carolinians more than $1.5 million in utility costs has helped the N.C. Housing Finance Agency win a national award for its leadership in promoting high energy standards for affordable housing. The Environmental Protection Agency will present its ENERGY STAR Excellence Award to the North Carolina agency in Washington, DC, April 12.

The housing finance agency was nominated for the award by Advanced Energy, a national energy efficiency organization based in Raleigh. The N.C. Housing Finance Agency has partnered with Advanced Energy for the last 10 years to promote high energy efficiency and standards in the construction of more than 1,800 affordable homes statewide, including many built by Habitat for Humanity.

Expanding on that partnership, the agency has now financed 9,700 affordable homes, apartments, and supportive housing units that meet or exceed ENERGY STAR standards. It has made this a requirement for all the new apartment and supportive housing construction it finances—roughly 1,500 units a year.

“Energy efficiency is especially important for families of modest means, because it keeps housing costs low over the long-term,” said Bob Kucab, director of the N.C. Housing Finance Agency. “Our partnership with Advanced Energy is producing 1,200 square-foot homes with heating/cooling costs guarantees averaging $25 to $30 a month.”

The SystemVision approach developed by Advanced Energy and the housing finance agency is the nation’s only affordable housing program with such a guarantee.

The housing agency offers SystemVision on a voluntary basis to local governments and nonprofit developers that use its financing to build single-family homes. The agency provides a grant to cover the $4,000 it costs to build the home to SystemVision’s standards for insulation, ductwork, ventilation and moisture management. Advanced Energy provides technical training and support for the more than 100 affordable housing developers who participate, training hundreds of contractors and Habitat for Humanity volunteers.

“SystemVision is transforming the affordable housing industry in North Carolina and leading market rate housing in energy efficiency standards,” said Krista Egger, director of affordable housing at Advanced Energy. “When we started 10 years ago, only 10 percent of affordable homes being built in North Carolina had SystemVision certifications. Now, 80 percent meet the standard.”

Because of the training and the program’s success, dozens of Habitat for Humanity chapters and community development corporations have begun incorporating SystemVision standards into their construction processes.

“SystemVision is a win-win for us because it keeps our homes affordable long after our buyers move in, and it’s good for the environment,” states Kevin Campbell, executive director of the Wake County Habitat for Humanity. “Using SystemVision laid the groundwork for us to get full certification in green building from the National Association of Home Builders.”

“Partners like the N.C. Housing Finance Agency and Advanced Energy are bringing the benefits of ENERGY STAR to Americans from all walks of life,” said Elizabeth Craig, acting director of the EPA’s Office of Atmospheric Programs. “Last year alone, Americans with help of ENERGY STAR saved $18 billion on their energy bills and prevented greenhouse gas equivalent to emissions of 34 million cars.”

The North Carolina Housing Finance Agency is a self-supporting public agency. It has financed 201,000 homes and apartments in the last three decades, including 82,000 homes for first-time home buyers.