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Affordable & Green - Conference Presents What's Possible

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified Jun 23, 2011 03:31 PM

More than one hundred Kentuckians including homebuilders, architects, affordable housing providers and interested people from across the state attended the 2011 Green Housing Summit hosted by Kentucky Habitat for Humanity last month to learn about how “green” and “affordable” work together in housing construction and remodeling. Kentucky Habitat for Humanity is a KFTC ally through the Kentucky Sustainable Energy Alliance.
 
Ginger and MaryKy Habitat’s Sustainable Building Specialist and active KySEA member Ginger Watkins played the lead role in making the summit a success. (Mary Shearer, KyHFH director and Ginger pictured left)
 
Homebuilder and presenter Kriss Lowry encouraged other builders in the crowd to think “green” for more than just higher-income families. Lowry noted that energy efficient housing isn’t just a nice thing to do - it makes economic sense.

“The lowest income Kentuckians pay the highest bills because their homes are so inefficient. This makes no sense – the more efficient we can make homes, the more money we are putting back into people’s pockets.”

Andy McDonald, director of the Kentucky Solar Partnership, presented about the Kentucky Sustainable Energy Alliance to the crowd, noting that the alliance promotes sustainable energy solutions that are affordable for all Kentuckians. McDonald explained that the policy solution supported by KySEA, known as the Clean Energy Opportunity Act, would require utilities to invest a substantial amount in efficiency upgrades to housing with lower-income families living in them.

What is a zero net energy home?
A home that produces as much energy annually as the inhabitants consume.

How far can “green” go and still be affordable?

Architect, builder and KFTC member Dick Levine, who has decades of local, national and international experience in the design and building fields, reiterated other speakers' comments that that the creation of affordable zero net energy homes across the state should be our shared goal.

“With a net zero energy home, you are taking the home out of the energy equation that the rest of the country and the world has to deal with and that is something,” Levine said.

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People's Self Help Housing has been providing affordable housing opportunities to families in Lewis County since 1982. PSHH knows that "affordability" is defined by more than just the mortgage. If a home is energy inefficient, the utility bills become too high for a low-income family to afford. As a result, PSHH has long-built highly energy efficient homes, helping the families they serve to thrive. PSHH has also recently built some of the first affordable homes in the region with renewable energy systems. Given that so many low-income KY families live in energy inefficient homes, combining affordability, efficiency and renewable energy is a recipe for success that benefits everyone.

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