Industry News: IL Expands Sustainability Criteria for Affordable Housing Developments

The Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) recently submitted a Qualified Allocation Plan (QAP) for the state’s Affordable Housing Tax Credit Program. The QAP dictates that in order for a project to qualify for financial assistance, it must submit its application and follow a checklist detailing criteria such as building concept and design, location, and local support. New this year, and one of the most talked about items of the section, is the inclusion of Passive House as part of the QAP’s Green Initiative Standards.

Getting an affordable housing project done in Illinois is a competitive process. Developers go head to head trying to get approval for their projects over others, based on how strong of an application they submit to IHDA. Every point in the application matters, which is why this year’s QAP change represents a large shift in the way sustainability and green buildings are addressed.

Some of the changes for 2016 allocate varying points to affordable housing projects designed and built to a green building certification standard. The scale of points ranges from 1-3, and depends largely on the comprehensiveness of the certification being sought. As seen below, a HERS Index of 75 and ENERGY STAR certification will garner different points than achieving certifications in Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) or Passive House.

Green Building Certification Possible Points

Note: the new, aggressive 3-point tier recognizes projects that meet programs such as Passive House, Living Building Challenge, or Net Zero Capable. Eco Achievers applauds this development to reward projects, such as Madison Supportive Housing 60-unit Passive House project, currently under construction. Developers building to aggressive standards should be rewarded for their efforts, and we feel that the new Illinois QAP has succeeded in this.

Eco Achievers’ president, Jason LaFleur, was one of the first Passive House raters nationwide to earn the credential for working on large buildings. “A lot of the press on Passive House has focused on single-family homes,” he explains, “but very few realize it's much easier for a big building to cost effectively meet Passive House criteria without having to build R50 walls and R100 roofs. It’s quite possible that R30 walls and R50 roofs will get you there due to higher efficiencies and internal loads.”  

As one of the few third-party verification firms and energy consultants that works with every program listed in the QAP, Eco Achievers is uniquely qualified to assist you. Not only are we Green Raters for LEED project certification, but we also have two employees able to assist with Passive Hous PHIUS+ certification, including the only specialist on multifamily Passive House projects in the state of Illinois, with our Principal, Jason LaFleur, holding the PHIUS+ MF designation.

If you’re thinking about an affordable housing project, or are interested in energy efficiency and sustainable design, contact us today. Eco Achievers can help navigate you through the green building systems to step up your shade of green.

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