| Extreme Green Rehabilitation|
|Housing rehabilitation is big business. There is an entire section of the affordable housing industry that's devoted strictly to rehabbing homes and marketing them for low- and moderate-income residents. According to a recent study, a non-profit organization based in Raleigh, North Carolina has proven that rehabilitating houses can be done using environmentally friendly methods.|
The study was published by North Carolina State University and compared the rehabilitation methods of non-profit organization Builders of Hope against traditional new construction methods. The study found that Builders of Hope's "extreme green remodeling" as it's called, produces 19 fewer tons of carbon dioxide than new home construction (25.6 tons vs 44.9 tons, respectively).
In addition to producing less carbon dioxide, Builders of Hope's methods also put less material in landfills, because homes are being refurbished instead of being outright demolished. Across the country, land banks have already begun demolishing bank-owned, empty houses that have become neighborhood eyesores. Thousands of houses have been razed this year, and thousands are on track to be torn down next year, as well. It is estimated that about 250,000 homes are demolished each year and sent to landfills, where the material takes years - even decades - to decompose. In addition to increased landfill material, the demolition of so many houses has also resulted in a sharp decline in available affordable housing.
The alternative, of course, is that empty homes sit idle, slowly deteriorating and becoming infested with rodents. NCSUs study offers an alternative that addresses two issues at once. Dilapidated homes no longer drag down area property values, and low- and moderate-income families have some much-needed housing options.
The outcome of NCSUs study is exciting to affordable housing advocates, who are always looking for ways to promote housing development, while simultaneously proving that it's beneficial for the entire community and not just to the families who are served. The reduced environmental impact exhibited by Builders of Hope's methods shows that builders can find creative ways to reduce their overall carbon footprint while still serving a community's lowest income residents.
Though the NCSU study calculated the amount of demolition material placed in landfills each year, it did not calculate the amount and type of pollutants included in that material. It's an important impact to consider. Not only does landfill material decompose over years, but through its decomposition, toxins are released into the atmosphere and ground. Rehabilitating property prevents those toxins from being released, further protecting the environment.
The North Carolina State University study proves that affordable housing can protect people and the environment simultaneously. The possibility of environmentally-friendly rehabilitation can be a strong selling point for developers interested in converting homes in communities where affordable housing is not readily supported.