How can super-efficient buildings become the new normal in equitable, affordable housing? 

Minnesota is working hard to create more affordable housing. But if we build structures that are not super-efficient, residents will be saddled with high energy bills—and we will miss an opportunity to improve our built environment, a top source of carbon emissions in the state. Now more than ever the topic of affordable housing has become even more critical.

Minnesota is working hard to create more affordable housing. But if we build structures that are not super-efficient, residents will be saddled with high energy bills—and we will miss an opportunity to improve our built environment, a top source of carbon emissions in the state.

In July 2020, this was the focus of Fresh Energy’s four-part Truly Affordable webinar series. For this series, we brought together Minnesota thought leaders from the diverse areas of the affordable housing arena to discuss from their perspectives how super-efficient buildings can become the new normal in equitable affordable housing.

With the increased attention on affordable housing in this current crisis, we know that the conversation has only just begun. You can tune into each conversation below:


How can all-electric affordable housing really work?

Elizabeth Turner, Architect and Founder of Precipitate, joined Fresh Energy’s Margaret Cherne-Hendrick to discuss how with the right architecture and building science, super-efficient affordable housing is possible. This kind of work is critical to address the climate crisis at a community level, especially considering that building account for 40% of total energy use across Minnesota.


What’s the connection between energy and housing stability?

Saint Paul City Councilmember Mitra Jalali joined Fresh Energy’s Janiece Watts to discuss the perspective of tenants when it comes to efficient, affordable housing. Councilmember Jalali brought her experience as a renter, policymaker, and city leader to the conversation by digging into the deep ties between energy and housing stability, and the role these ties play especially during times of economic hardship.


Why is healthy, affordable housing so hard?

Gina Ciganik, Chief Executive Officer of the Healthy Buiding Network, joined Fresh Energy’s Ben Passer for a conversation about healthy, affordable housing from the perspective of a nonprofit developer and public health advocate. Gina shed light on how closely intertwined the energy efficiency of a building is with the health of its residents and how the choices developers make have long-term impacts on residents – especially when it comes to the building materials used construction.


How can cities lead?

Mayor Kim Norton of Rochester, Minnesota, joined Fresh Energy’s Justin Fay to discuss how cities can lead by building housing right the first time. Even though cities care deeply about ensuring high performing buildings are built, they can only set the efficiency bar so high when public money is involved. Using Rochester as an example Mayor Norton shared with us how the city effectively is spurring super-efficient development in the Destination Medical Center and their involvement in initiatives to change state law so cities like Rochester have the freedom to require that buildings be built better than the state code.


View more event details and speaker bios here.

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