Jun 06Lighting Homes with Brighter Futures
How do you save money while improving quality of life? Most people’s first answer wouldn’t be ‘efficient energy use and water-saving upgrades.’ Though it’s a mouthful, these sustainability measures are transforming the lives of families in need.
Not Just a Luxury Anymore
For far too long sustainable building and energy use was seen as a luxury for wealthy homeowners, an elitist concept that excludes the practical needs and financial concerns of low-income Americans. Today, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Affordable housing organizations that focus on sustainable, resource-saving practices have gotten creative—best of all, it’s supporting low-income people to be healthier and happier while saving them money.
Mercy Housing’s environmental sustainability program, Green Hope, partners with Stewards of Affordable Housing for the Future (SAHF) because we share goals: saving residents money, improving quality of life, and creating a healthy environment to name a few. A recent SAHF report highlights several benefits associated with sustainable upgrades (simple updates to lights, plumbing, and other resource-using parts of a building). The results show improvements to low-income residents’ health and comfort of low-income residents.
When a building’s lighting and ventilation improves, people’s futures brighten with possibilities. There are reductions in asthma triggers, thermal stress, headaches, arthritis pain, and carbon monoxide poisoning.
Take lighting and ventilation upgrades for example. Lighting upgrades make it easier to read and can reduce headaches. Ventilation upgrades improve indoor air quality, which can also reduce the number of headaches. For a child, reduced headaches may result in fewer missed school days, which can then lead to better test scores and less behavioral issues. When kids miss fewer school days, parents miss fewer days at work— more time, more money.
Many upgrades to lighting and water use help people save on utilities. According to the U.S. Green Building Council, low-income families spend disproportionately more of their annual income on energy—13.3% compared to 3.3% for non-low-income households. When residents save money by paying less for utilities, they have improved energy security, food security, and housing security.
While the benefits of equipment upgrades aren’t always visible to residents, some upgrades can have a big impact on their day-to-day lives. Great improvements to quality of life come from reduced noise levels, improved control of building systems, fewer disruptions for repairs, and better lighting quality and distribution. A recent LED lighting retrofit offered better quality lighting for some senior residents and gave them greater ease in moving around their apartments.
Mercy Housing believes that a good home shows the values of the community. We always consider these values while pursuing energy-saving and water-saving upgrades throughout Mercy Housing homes. Homes that are affordable and eco-friendly offer long-term benefits to the families that live there, the community, and all Mercy Housing partners.
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