Case Study: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Mark-to-Market Green Initiative Program The benefits of green affordable housing address the fundamental needs of its residents: affordability and livability. According to the National Energy Policy Report, the energy burden on low-income households as a proportion of income is four times greater than it is for other American households. Greening affordable housing not only makes sense for residents — who can benefit from lower utility costs and healthier environments — but also for owners, who benefit from lower maintenance and operating costs.In response to this opportunity, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) launched its Mark-to-Market (M2M) Green Initiative for affordable housing in July 2007. The initiative was designed to provide an opportunity to replace inefficient building systems and equipment with sustainable, energy efficient, and cost-effective alternatives in conjunction with project renovation and financial restructuring actions supported through HUD’s Mark-to-Market program.. A nationwide pilot, the M2M Green Initiative provided financial incentives and technical support to property owners to facilitate energy and green invests and incorporate sustainability principles into ongoing property operations, repairs and scheduled equipment replacements over the next 20 years of the project’s life. Providing more favorable financing terms and enabling project debt to be restructured to accommodate green investments — even as rents are set to ensure greater long-term affordability for low income households — enables affordable housing owners to realize the green potential of the existing housing stock.After developing the Green Initiative pilot program, the California Sustainability Alliance provided valuable policy feedback to HUD by commissioning Strategic Energy Innovations (SEI) to evaluate the design and implementation of the M2M Green Initiative. The Alliance conducted a study of the current Green Initiative Implementation Guidelines and provided technical assistance to help properties assess their energy performance, identify energy efficiency and green building opportunities, integrate energy efficiency and green technologies into design plans, develop specifications for building performance, and verify building performance to ensure that owners gain the best return on the energy and green building investments.Sustainable opportunities identified include the following:HVAC and EnvelopeWall A/C unitsCommon-area A/CRoof-pack A/CCottage heat pumpsPackaged terminal heat pumpsAttic insulationWindowsRoof/paint upgrades to reduce A/C loadsOther Energy EfficiencyLightingCeiling fansElevator MotorsRefrigeratorsClothes washersWater EfficiencyHigh-efficiency sprinkler headsXeriscapingDrip irrigationHardscaping upgradesMaterialsBamboo cabinetryNatural linoleum floor tileLow-VOC carpeting and paintSolarSolar thermal domestic hot waterPhotovoltaicsThe Alliance’s study recommends improving performance of the M2M green retrofits by upgrading technical and economic analysis requirements, improving utility monitoring requirements and providing more specific guidance for selection of qualified contractors. The study reviews the existing program guidelines and other HUD tools and programs to evaluate the effectiveness of the current M2M program.Download the Alliance’s Green Property Condition Assessment Recommendations for the Mark-to-Market Green Initiative.For more information on the HUD Mark-to-Market Green Initiative, visit the HUD website.