Enterprise Provides Carbon Offset Funds for Green Mixed-Income Housing in Albuquerque

Albuquerque, N.M.–Enterprise Community Partners has chosen the first phase of Silver Gardens, a 119-unit green, transit-oriented, mixed-income housing community, as the first in the nation to receive funding from the newly formed Enterprise Green Communities Offset Fund, an initiative to counter developments’ carbon emissions.”The Green Communities Offset Fund is something we’ve been working on ever since we launched Green Communities,” Dana Bourland, senior director of Enterprise’s Green Communities, tells MHN. “We realized that each of the projects we’re getting developed will have significant environmental benefits, including reducing CO2 emissions.”Through the fund, Enterprise raises contributions from organizations, individuals and events to purchase carbon offsets from developers of green affordable housing projects, similar to a cap-and-trade system. The proceeds go to community-based groups that reduce energy use and global warming pollution in low-income homes.For Silver Gardens, Enterprise is purchasing 330 tons of carbon dioxide that will not be released into the environment, which will allow the development to make additional investments in further reducing its carbon footprint.Though cap-and-trade systems are currently voluntary, “Enterprise is seeing this and getting ahead of the curve by saying it wants to monetize the carbon offsets to encourage developers of affordable housing to be as green as possible,” explains Homer Robinson, project manager at Romero Rose, the Albuquerque affiliate of Jonathan Rose Companies, who, along with the Supportive Housing Coalition of New Mexico Inc., is developing the project.With the fund, “We can pass 100 percent of the carbon offsets onto projects, such as Silver Gardens, to allow them to realize more energy-efficient measures in their buildings,” Bourland notes. “We purchase that amount of CO2 reduction that is above and beyond what the project could achieve, and we retire those CO2 emission reductions for five years so they cannot be bought and sold.”Green features at Silver Gardens include rainwater harvesting; high-efficiency plumbing fixtures; wind turbines for generating electricity; Energy Star windows, appliances and lighting; and low-VOC paints and carpets.Additionally, as part of the Alvarado Transportation Center Metropolitan Redevelopment Area, the site is in close proximity to a number of new regional and local trains and buses. “Downtown Albuquerque is in the midst of being redeveloped. The city, together with HDIC (The Historic District Improvement Company), has made valiant efforts in the redevelopment,” says Theresa Bell, a partner at Romero Rose.As to why Silver Gardens was selected as the first development to receive this particular funding, Bourland explains that Jonathan Rose Companies “is a developer committed to building green and is always looking for way to improve.”The development is located on the site of a former Greyhound Bus terminal in downtown Albuquerque, N.M. The first phase of the development will consist of 66 units and will receive the Green Communities Offset Fund grant. Additionally, it is expected to achieve at least LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver certification and will meet the criteria for Enterprise’s Green Communities.Eighty-five percent of the apartments are labeled affordable for those earning 30, 50 and 60 percent or less than the median area income. Studios, one- and two-bedrooms units will be offered, ranging in size from 461 to 911 sq. ft., and will rent from $278 to $739 per month. Monthly rents for the remaining market-rate residences will range from $602 to $890.Funding for the $12.9 million project was provided through MFA, City Home, MFA/NM Housing Trust Fund, Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) and grants from grants from the city of Albuquerque, Federal Home Loan Bank and Enterprise Green Grants.This article first appeared on www.multihousingnews.com, affiliated with Multi-Housing News magazine.