Since late 2004, Enterprise has spearheaded a national effort called Green Communities, demonstrating the benefits of sustainable development of affordable housing. With 150 projects under way by the end of its second full year of operation (a total of more than 7,000 units) Green Communities seems to have tapped a widespread demand among affordable housing developers for financial and technical support in green planning, design and construction. Green Communities projects have sprung up in cities, suburbs and rural areas in 23 states to date. Yet despite wide variety in the kinds of housing and communities involved, every project follows basic guidelines that ensure the conservation of energy and natural resources, healthy surroundings for residents, and a sustainable relationship with the natural environment.
In Minnesota, Green Communities has become the basis for an ambitious effort to make all the affordable housing in the state sustainable. In just a few years, the idea of green development has become increasingly woven into the investment decisions of nearly all the state’s major housing funders. Given the leadership behind Minnesota’s effort, and the care with which it is being pursued, it may be the precursor to more widespread change in the way affordable housing is conceived and funded nationwide.