Sustaining the economy

Each green affordable housing unit strengthens the economy by creating sustainable, healthy living spaces, building a market for green products, and investing in a future where residents will spend their paychecks at local businesses instead of on their utility bills. A growing green economy holds promise for the local economy and for jobs for low-income people.

Efficiency = Jobs

Your investment in energy efficiency creates almost twice as many jobs as the same investment made in a gas-fired power plant. Cutting electricity use through efficiency is that much cheaper, and dollars not spent on utility bills go back into the local economy. Additionally, when a business owner cuts overhead, she can hire new employees.

More jobs will develop as demand grows for weatherization, energy management and other green building services. The recent green building legislation in Washington, DC and Montgomery County presents opportunities for local firms to manufacture and supply green building materials. Demolition firms that move into deconstruction and landscapers who move into stormwater management will gain business and hire more employees. These green jobs are often local jobs for the residents of affordable housing.

DC Councilmember Kwame Brown held a hearing on green economic development in October of 2007, and the DC Office of Planning is pursuing a green collar jobs initiative. DC Councilmember Mary Cheh's proposed energy bill would accelerate weatherization and other improvements to existing buildings, while updates to the building and zoning codes will improve the efficiency of all new buildings.

Benefits to infrastructure and public services

Green affordable housing takes the pressure off the region's clogged roads, over-taxed sewer system, and electrical grid.

  • By responding to the need for smartly sited, high performance affordable housing, we can make it easier for police officers and teachers to live near their jobs. The rest of us, in turn, benefit from reduced traffic congestion.
  • Because green buildings typically use at least 30 percent less energy, they keep electricity rates down and improve the performance of the grid.
  • Water efficient homes reduce pressure on treatment plants and distribution systems. Sewer systems and local rivers and streams also benefit when you lower water use and control stormwater runoff with smart planning and landscaping.
  • Since improved indoor air quality reduces asthma, green housing can ease pressure on the medical system, helping to keep residents healthy and productive.

Competitive advantage for local businesses

Building green means getting ahead. As DC area developers, architects, and contractors gain experience with integrated design, high performance products, and advanced construction techniques, they have more to offer their clients. They also learn how to work more efficiently and save money on materials and building systems.

Local businesses gain a competitive advantage in green building, since they are able to minimize transportation costs, thereby using less energy, reducing climate impact, and lowering life-cycle costs. Local manufacturers of building products are thus in an excellent position to start green product lines.

Similarly, understanding local environmental conditions and community needs can give designers and planners a leg up for green building projects. Those who know how buildings behave in DC's climate will be able to design for energy efficiency. And development teams that can connect to the community will have an advantage as integrated design charrettes become an essential part of any bid to build affordable housing in the District and the region.


D.C. Invests in Green Collar Jobs, Center for American Progress

Green Economic Development and Its Benefits for Small Business in the District of Columbia Testimony of Bracken Hendricks, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress, Before the Washington, D.C. City Council, Committee on Economic Development

Green-Collar Jobs in America's Cities, report and video by the Apollo Alliance with the Center for American Progress and the Center on Wisconsin Strategy

Green Jobs by the Numbers, Center for American Progress