“The Greening of America’s Public Housing: More Options, More Technologies, More Support” by Mike Singer. This article discusses the growing interest by affordable housing developers to specify “green materials and energy-efficient technologies.” Since affordable housing projects have long-term financing structures (they need to remain affordable over a period of “x” number of years), there is a concerted interested in utilizing durable green technologies to minimize long-term maintenance and operational costs. Apparently, HUD has green criteria associated with its affordable housing funding, but it is voluntary compliance at the moment. (For more information about HUD affordable/green housing funds, see my previous post). In the case of the Alley Flat Initiative, the City of Austin has an incentive for developers/builders to meet green building criteria in exchange for waiving inspection and permitting fees. The addition of energy-efficient buildings are in the city’s best interest, since Austin Energy is the city-owned utility company.
I’m interested to know how many of these projects have explored or are leveraging the capabilities of BIM to further improve upon affordable/sustainable goals. I discuss the potential benefits of BIM in Chapter 3 and Chapter 5 of my thesis as a means for reducing hard/soft project costs and for performing a wide array of analysis to improve overall energy/resource efficiency. Perhaps, along with requiring green building criteria, HUD could also require the use of BIM for the design/construction process – I know this would be a huge leap and could potentially stall the development of affordable/green housing since most non-profit developers and small-scale architects have still not invested in BIM technology. Nevertheless, housing authorities and funding organizations like HUD or city governments could help to subsidize the cost of BIM tools and even help to train staff. I’m sure BIM developers would be open to the idea of discounting software/training costs for non-profit groups.