Celebrating a Decade of the Green Hope Program

Green Hope’s Beginnings  

Mercy Housing’s Green Hope environmental sustainability program celebrates its 10-year anniversary in 2023. The program’s origins date back to 2012 when Mercy Housing responded to a call to action and established the Environmental Sustainability Advisory Committee. In early 2013, the committee hired a temporary Sustainability Manager who was later made a permanent position. Mercy Housing then formally committed to the Better Buildings Challenge (BBC) and the Stewards of Affordable Housing’s Big Reach. These commitments have driven the Green Hope program’s mission for 10 years.

Meet the Green Hope team: Jackie Slocombe, Laura Pemberton, and Max Stewart.

Program Accomplishments

In its first decade, Green Hope achieved many milestones, including implementing a pay-from-savings energy efficiency contract across 48 properties – the first of its kind for multifamily nonprofits. This energy efficiency model allowed Mercy Housing to overcome funding barriers and to install some of the first heat pump water heaters for multi-family communities in the United States. Green Hope advanced Solar PV at properties nationwide, and currently 65 communities harness energy from rooftop or onsite solar arrays while an additional 18 utilize community solar. Thanks to the work of the Green Hope program, fellow employees, and external partnerships, Mercy Housing became the first national multifamily affordable housing nonprofit BBC goal achiever in 2020, by reducing energy consumption by 24% across the portfolio. The Green Hope program evolved and now has three dedicated staff members. The team has completed projects in 12,000 units in at least 154 properties in our portfolio.

The estimated cumulative impact of the Green Hope Program over its 10-year history is:

  • $6.4 Million in Measured Savings across 300+ projects leveraged $8M in rebates + incentives.
  • Electricity Use Reduction: 14.6M kWh (equivalent to electricity consumption of ~1,300 American households).
  • Solar Procured: 4.8 Megawatts (2 MW owned, 2.8 MW PPA).
  • Natural Gas Use Reduction: 501K Therms (~500 houses).
  • Greenhouse gas emissions from 2,900 passenger cars driven for 1 year OR Carbon sequestered. by 15,000 acres of forest, about the size of Manhattan.
  • Water Use Reduction: 203M Gallons (>300 Olympic-size swimming pools.)

 *These are early estimates through 2022.

Solar PV

Photovoltaic systems are often referred to as Solar PV. This happens when solar panels capture the energy of sunlight and convert it into electricity. “To date, Green Hope has installed Solar PV across 63 communities and is participating in community solar for another 20,” Jackie Slocombe, National Director of Environmental Sustainability for Mercy Housing shares.

In Colorado alone, this has led to saving $36,000/year and 11.2 million lbs. of CO2. Another benefit of Solar PV is that the electricity created does not emit harmful greenhouse gases or disrupt any natural resources.

Mesa Senior Medows residents are ready to recycle.

Looking Forward

“While maintaining our focus on energy and water efficiency projects, Green Hope will also employ new strategies to create efficient, healthy, and sustainable buildings,” said Jackie. In 2020, the Green Hope team recommitted Mercy Housing to the DOE’s Better Buildings Challenge to improve energy performance by an additional 20% and was newly committed to the DOE’s Better Climate Challenge, pledging to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the portfolio by 50% before 2030. The team is hard at work developing a decarbonization roadmap to determine the best strategies to achieve the organization’s greenhouse gas reduction goals.

These commitments serve as a spark to pursue high-efficiency electrification and decarbonization projects in the next ten years. Green Hope is also committed to water preservation, focusing on geographic regions of the portfolio impacted by water scarcity. The Green Hope team was recently recognized with a 2023 Better Project Award from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Initiative at Decatur Place Apartments, an affordable housing community for families in Denver, CO., where leak detection and real-time water monitoring decreased water consumption by more than 30%.

In the future, the program hopes to continue utilizing innovative products to reduce wasted water. Jackie adds, “Green Hope is proud to celebrate its accomplishments during the program’s first 10 years, but with new environmental challenges and commitments, the team is excited to continue creating sustainable living environments for Mercy Housing’s residents.”