Championing Sustainability: The Success of SAHF’s Big Reach Initiative in Affordable Housing
Green building strategies in affordable housing offer a solution to climate change, enhancing residents’ health and comfort while fostering resilient communities. Stewards of Affordable Housing for the Future (SAHF)’s Big Reach initiative, established in 2013, set an ambitious goal: reduce energy and water consumption by 20% by 2020. This initiative shifted beyond isolated property adjustments to embrace sustainability as the standard in multifamily affordable housing. Remarkably, by 2020, SAHF members surpassed the goal, reporting 29% energy savings and 24% water savings compared to the 2010 baseline. This translates to significant environmental benefits and an estimated annual cost savings of $58 million. The success was driven by prioritizing green standards, utilizing various funding sources for retrofits, incorporating renewable energy, and engaging residents. Systemic changes, both internally and in collaboration with entities like HUD, amplified the impact. This pioneering work sets the stage for future efforts that intertwine decarbonization, health, and equity.