For several years, HDC’s Practical Development Solutions Affinity Group, and more recently its Exemplary Building Task Force, have driven HDC’s ultra-efficient sustainability agenda using a clear theory of change.

Our guiding principles:

We have a multi-pronged goal: creating healthy homes; preserving the environment; producing extremely durable buildings; and balancing first costs in a way that does not minimize overall units produced.

As a result, we seek to:

  1. Define standardized building practices and specifications that support early integrative design and create consistency. This will transcend the challenges that arise when each nonprofit-developed affordable housing project is a one-off design-build, each typically completed by a newly assembled development team.
  2. Garner opportunities for volume purchasing and discounted supplier agreements for essential building materials. This will help reduce the incremental premium and overall costs of producing ultra-efficient and healthy affordable housing at scale.
  3. Develop and deliver professional training and certification programs and expand a diverse contractor and workforce capable of erecting, installing, and operating ultra-efficient housing.
  4. Marshal funding from sources that typically don’t support affordable housing. This will offset premium costs that remain after implementing the previous three steps and mitigate concerns by developers regarding how to make the project viable.
  5. Provide stellar tools and methods to help affordable housing owner-operators modify end-user resident behavior and manage utility allowance approaches. This will leverage the value created by producing ultra-efficient buildings.
  6. Focus on widespread adoption and persistent improvement by conducting all work in the early demonstration phases with an open source intentionality and deliberate monitoring and evaluation that feeds learning back into future projects.

The impact? Transformation.

We believe that if we honor this process with fidelity, the premium cost to deliver will diminish as the new way of doing the work is financed by the offset in operating cost savings and as the model becomes standard practice. While capital resources are a huge concern for achieving scale, the growing concern over a shortage in operating resources validates our approach.